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Update May 2017

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Book Review

Update May 27, 2017

Crime thriller ‘The Thirst’ keeps readers guessing

Jonathan Elderfield

“The Thirst” (Alfred A. Knopf), Jo Nesbo

It all starts with a Tinder date in a bar appropriately called Jealousy and ends with death on an ice-covered fjord.  In between, “The Thirst,” the latest Harry Hole crime thriller by Jo Nesbo, is filled with horrific murder scenes intensely detailed enough to chill the blood in your veins.

The women of Oslo, Norway, are being killed by what appears to be a vampire — the perpetrator is drinking their blood — and Hole, now sober and lecturing at the Police College, is drawn into active duty to run a parallel investigation.

Nesbo’s cast of characters is filled with potential suspects, careerist cops and Hole’s family and friends.  They include his wife Rakel, who is suffering headaches, and her son Oleg, who is attending the Police College; a tabloid reporter, Mona Daa, and a policeman who is leaking details to her from the investigation; a criminal forensics expert, Bjorn, and the lead detective on the case; and Katrina, who recently split up with him, as well as a police chief with suspect motivations.

It’s frightening enough with a killer on the loose, but in “The Thirst,” even the good guys have secrets.  Hole struggles to keep control of his fragile mental state and his drinking as the killer exsanguinates his victims — and Harry even comes face-to-face with the murderer but is forced to let him go.

The story is filled with enough side plots — a victimized child, a sick wife and a convicted murderer — to keep readers guessing about the serial killer’s identity and to keep Hole obsessed and afraid for his own family.

“The Thirst” begins with the brutal killer sinking rusty metal teeth into a victim’s neck, and with that gruesome murder, you’ll want to sink your teeth into “The Thirst” and not let go. (AP)

Update May 20, 2017

‘The Mask of Sanity’ is a suspenseful story

Bruce Desilva

“The Mask of Sanity” (The Permanent Press), by Jacob M. Appel

Dr. Jeremy Balint is a man who has it all.  He’s a respected community leader, a cardiologist with a thriving practice and a family man with a beautiful wife and two lovely young daughters.  But when he discovers that his wife is having an affair with one of his colleagues, he begins methodically planning to take the man’s life.

Balint pretends the colleague is his best friend and feigns ignorance of his wife’s infidelity.  To avoid any hint that he has a motive for murder, he allows the affair to continue for months.

He studies murder cases, both real and fictional, to learn how to avoid mistakes, always careful to leave no trace that could lead back to him.

Finally, he decides that the best way to avoid being caught is to make it appear that the murder he is planning is just one in a series of random attacks by a deranged serial killer — which means he has to kill six or seven times.

As Balint begins his rampage, draping each victim with a green ribbon as the killer’s “signature,” he is somewhat surprised to discover that he can bash and strangle without remorse.

That’s the premise of “The Mask of Sanity,” a novel that is both a suspenseful yarn and a chilling portrait of the mind of a high-functioning sociopath.

The author, Jacob M. Appel, knows his subject well.  He is a physician, an attorney and a former Ivy League professor who has made a study of sociopaths.  And his crisp, muscular prose comes as no surprise from a prolific short story writer who has been shortlisted for the O’Henry Award and whose first novel, “The Man Who Wouldn’t Stand Up,” won the Dundee International Book Prize in 2012. (AP)

Update May 13, 2017

‘Four Legendary Kingdoms’ is complex saga

Jeff Ayers

“The Four Legendary Kingdoms” (Gallery Books), by Matthew Reilly

Matthew Reilly’s hero Jack West Jr. returns in “The Four Legendary Kingdoms,” a non-stop action fest that bleeds action and thrills on every page.

History knows of the Great Games, but the details have fallen to myth.  The fourth game is about to begin to save the world from a catastrophic event that will eliminate all life on Earth.  The three previous winners were Osiris, Gilgamesh and Hercules, and the time has come for a new set of challenges with 16 warriors entering the contest.  Only one can emerge victorious.

West wakes up in a cell with a shaved head and an explosive implanted in the back of his neck.  He has no knowledge of what he’s about to do, but he must learn quickly.  His daughter and some of his friends are being held hostage to ensure his participation, and walking away will result in the immediate termination of both West and the people he holds dear.

Most of his opponents are familiar with the Games and know how to cheat the system in order to stay alive.  Jack has to keep ahead of death, and the further he makes it into the tournament, the more he puts a target on his back.

Reilly’s fans will love this over-the-top story that mixes “The Hunger Games” with Greek mythology.

The author also brings elements from his previous books, creating a wonderfully complex saga that seems to fit perfectly into Jack’s earlier tales and Reilly’s other series. (AP)



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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Crime thriller ‘The Thirst’ keeps readers guessing

‘The Mask of Sanity’ is a suspenseful story

‘Four Legendary Kingdoms’ is complex saga


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