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Posts Tagged ‘crime’

Mirror Man by Fiona McIntosh. Pub Penguin Random House, 2021

June 15, 2021 Comments off

I do not read many adult novels but this one is very good. It is about a serial killer, Colin, who wants to ensure that criminals pay their dues while answering the need to empty prisons. He is a vigilante, or is he? and when a prisoner who has committed a dastardly crime is released too early, he plans and commits a murder. He has done it on at least four occasions but are there more and will there be others?

I admit than when I read about the crimes and the death of the perpetrators, I felt a sense of justice being done and indeed Colin feels that he is administering justice to the victims of crime. But there is more to this story than that but that is for you the reader to find out.

The hero of this story is DCI Jack Hawksworth a debonair James Bond like character who has a weakness for beautiful vulnerable women, and there are many of those in this novel. Jack is chivalrous, charming, awfully good looking, with long legs and a smile that melts the hearts of women who cross his path. He plays it cool as he has been hurt badly in the past, especially from a serial killer, Anne who is now inside Holloway prison and whom he consults on this case.

Jack is instructed to look at connections between several murders and to keep a low profile so as not to unsettle the public but he is undone by a canny journalist Lauren, who has been worked over by a cad of a man but has an instinct for a story like no other. Jack is attracted to her and she to him, and he realises that a nosey journalist can fly under the radar in a way no member of the police can. But can he ignore his weakness for this vulnerable, clever and beautiful woman?

A clever intelligent story that I was thrilled to bits to read. Fiona McIntosh writes a well crafted plot with endearing characters, grim murders and ties up all the loose ends. A particular strength is her portrayal of women. Most are in their 30’s have been worked over by a man, and are reluctant to try again. Until they meet Jack of course.

This is the third book about Jack Hawksworth and I for one an going to read the first two. Fiona McIntosh is not well known in NZ and she should be. I savoured this novel over a week and I don’t know where to go after reading it. I bet you feel the same.

What Beauty There Is by Cory Anderson. Pub. Penguin Books, 2021.

May 21, 2021 Comments off

Set in Idaho in mid winter this suspense thriller for Young Adults is possibly the best book this year. If it was a rock band you would describe it as tight, if it was a film you would liken it to Fargo.

The background to the story is a robbery of a money laundering premises in which a suitcase of money has gone missing, hidden by a criminal who is violent and now in prison. The money is of drug origin and the gang is still after their loot.

Seventeen year old Jack and his six year old brother Matty are the sons of the man in prison and when we first meet them they are living in a cold house without heat or food and their mother has just hung herself after years of drug abuse. Jack buries his mother in the back garden and vows to himself that he will look after Matty.

At school Jack meets a tough shy girl called Ava who is described as “an animal peering out through human eyes”. She has a black tattoo of a heart on her wrist and keeps to herself. Jack helps her out at school and a bond begins between them that blossoms as the book progresses. Ava’s father was strongly implicated in the money laundering robbery and he wants the missing suitcase of money.

As carnage breaks out around them Jack and Matty link up with Ava without knowing that her father is chasing the money and will do anything to get it and does so. Jack suffers horribly and Ava for the first time in her life starts caring about someone.

The action is thrilling, compulsive and fast moving. The chapters are short and very readible hence the word tight in the opening paragraph. Each chapter has an introduction by the narrator who is mostly Ava looking back at what has happened. There is the occasional poem and a lot of talk about the human condition. The ending is gory and earth shattering but you can find that out for yourself.

The profile of the killer Bardem whose catch phrase is “whatever you put in that circle is yours to take’ is astonishing. Don’t miss this novel.

A superb novel. Take your time over it and relish every word. One of the best of the year.

Monster by Walter Dean Myers, adapted by Guy A. Sims, illus. Dawud Anyabwile.

June 25, 2019 Comments off

MonsterMonster by Walter Dean Myers, adapted by Guy A. Sims, illus. Dawud Anyabwile. Pub. HarperCollins, 2015.

This is one of the most powerful graphic novels I have read and if I wanted to deter anybody from pursuing a criminal career that could lead to jail I would get them to read this novel.

It is the story a teenage boy, Steve, who is asked to be a lookout and to case a drugstore that two hardened criminals plan to rob. The robbery goes badly and the shop owner is killed. Steve and his two alleged partners in crime stand trial for the murder and face life in jail if convicted.

The story of the trial is powerful as Steve learns of the horrors of prison life and has to face his parents. He learns too that criminals do not tell the truth and will do anything to get off even if it means implicating others.

The graphic illustrations are outstanding and will live in your memory long after you finish the novel. Plus there is a filmic quality to the novel with Steve seeing everything as though he was making a film about it.

Stunning stuff for visual learners of high school age.

To Trap a Thief by Des Hunt

April 16, 2019 Comments off

trap thiefTo Trap a Thief by Des Hunt. Pub Scholastic, 2019.

Another exciting adventure novel from a master children’s writer. Once again it is kids verses the adults and the kids are going to win but not before they are put through their paces and a lot of things have changed.

Set in the top half of the South Island from Nelson across to Motueka, Takaka and the Abel Tasman National Park, the backdrop of all the action is melded into the magnificence of this part of new Zealand.

Connors dad died in a plane crash and his mother has taken up with a good man called Morgan. Unfortunately Morgan’s mum and dad don’t like the relationship. To give things a trial Connor and his friend Harvey go on a camping trip in a motorised caravan with Rosen and Denzel, his possible future step grandparents. There is friction. But before all is worked out there are codes to break and a thief to catch.

Before the trip Denzel and Rosen won Lotto and others feel that it was from a ticket that they lost. Is it true? On the trip the boys are roped into a Quest via cell phone and a smooth operator called Frank has a mission of his own.

Easy to read in short chapters with plenty of excitement to lure in the most reluctant readers. Intermediate and Junior secondary.

Bad Dad by David Walliams. Illus. Tony Ross

December 2, 2017 Comments off

bad dadBad Dad by David Walliams. Illus. Tony Ross. Pub. HarperCollins, 2017.

You don’t need to advertise these novels kids all know about them as soon as they are out.

The usual smattering of silliness which you wish was true, with goodies taking on baddies and winning. This time we have a bad dad who isn’t bad, a vicar without a congregation, a mini called Queenie, an aunt who can’t write poetry and three villains-Mr Big, Fingers and Thumbs who are just classic and right out of a Jimmy Cagney movie.

The down trodden are 11 year old Frank and his stockcar driving father Gilbert who losses a leg, a wife and his self respect but not the love of his son.

The minor characters are a treat especially the local copper Sergeant Scoff and perennial newsagent and all round good guy if a little mingy, Raj.

Great for anyone with a silly sense of humour and especially for reluctant readers. As usual Tony Ross’s illustrations are superb.

I loved it. But wait there’s more. We have a gay relationship to ponder and it will make you happy.

Into the World by Ted Dawe.

May 20, 2016 Comments off

into the worldInto the World by Ted Dawe. Pub Mangakino University Press, 2016. http://www.teddawe.com.

This sequel to the award winning and controversial Into the River is tuff, raw, emotional, at times unbelievable but always riveting. It continues the descent into hell of innocent Maori boy Te Arepa who has morphed into the devious but likeable Public school educated Devon Santos.

Expelled from school this novel starts 10 minutes after Into the River with Devon deciding to stay in Auckland and not go back to his Whanau. Big mistake.

Devon contacts his school mate Mitch who is now the gopher or bitch to Rebel who is a skinhead and into drugs, midnight autos and the seedy street life. Devon finds work and accommodation with Martin and his wife Gail and learns what it is like to be used.

When that ends he is taken in by Mitch and the skinheads and it is all downhill. Prison is the inevitable ending but you know that Devon has been unlucky, he has been dealt a bad hand.

A new Corrections Department initiative throws Devon a lifeline and he grabs it with both hands and is taken in by a rich philanthropic rich man called Wes. Life begins to look sweet for Devon, he is intelligent, willing and adaptable. Then he meets Ella. The rest is dramatic reading.

Superbly written by Ted Dawe in  three parts with short sharp chapters. The story moves fast like the cars Devon drives and the street talk and dialogue is a feature of the novel.

The question that is asked is does Devon really have a chance in life? School alienated him from his culture and whanau and in this book he still hides his Maori upbringing. What options does he have after prison? Can any one be totally rehabilitated? Does society give Devon or any prisoner for that matter, a chance?

Ted Dawe throws up a lot of social issues. The role of father is a massive issue in this novel both for boys and girls. I like his style, but some may not. Whatever you think it is damn good writing.

Certainly senior secondary and young adult.

Two Wolves by Tristan Bancks.

March 26, 2014 Comments off

two wolvesTwo Wolves by Tristan Bancks. Pub. Random House, 2014.

“Is it possible to outrun the blood you have inherited, to become somebody else?” This quote from the book is the theme to this exciting, thought provoking and stunning novel for high school students and young adults.

Ben is 13 years old with a love of film making and he wants to be a cop when he grows up. His father even calls him Cop. Olive his sister is 7 years old and is built of stern stuff too. Their mother is dominated by  their criminally minded father and one day a stroke of luck comes their way.

A bank error to the tune of $7.2 million dollars has the whole family on the run on outback Australia. Ben and Olivia know nothing of what is happening until an incident with a police patrol car has them fleeing like the devil himself was after them.

They hole up in a hut, tensions are high and Ben soon works out what has occurred. High drama begins and ends with a stunning father / son confrontation.

A million dollars can buy a lot of happy but is it worth it?  Everybody has a choice and Ben learns to exercise his.

A compulsive read that will keep the reader on edge. One of the best novels I have read this year.