Archive for the ‘thriller’ Category

 Spring, 1919. James ‘Max’ Maxted, former Great War flying ace, returns to the trail of murder, treachery and half-buried secrets he set out on in The Ways of the World. He left Paris after avenging the murder of his father, Sir Henry Maxted, a senior member of the British delegation to the post-war peace conference. But he was convinced there was more — much more — to be discovered about what Sir Henry had been trying to accomplish. And he suspected elusive German spymaster Fritz Lemmer knew the truth of it.
Now, enlisted under false colours in Lemmer’s service but with his loyalty pledged to the British Secret Service, Max sets out on his first — and possibly last — mission for Lemmer. It takes him to the far north of Scotland — to the Orkney Isles, where the German High Seas Fleet has been impounded in Scapa Flow, its fate to be decided at the conference-table in Paris. Max has been sent to recover a document held aboard one of the German ships. What that document contains forces him to break cover sooner than he would have wished and to embark on a desperate race south, towards London, with information that could destroy Lemmer — if Max, as seems unlikely, lives to deliver it.

The Corners of the Globe: The Wide World Trilogy #2

Robert Goddard

Bantam Press

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Stephen Litten

Spring, 1919, and former RAF pilot James “Max” Maxted is on the trail of the German spymaster Fritz Lemmer. But Max is playing a dangerous game, that of double agent. He wants to avenge the murder of his father, Sir James Maxted, killed recently in Paris and to take down the spy ring that Lemmer has constructed before, during and after WWI. His first task is to recover the Grey File, held by a German Captain aboard one of the battleships interned at Scapa Flow. Max knows this is a test and that Lemmer doesn’t entirely trust him.

Thus opens the second of Goddard’s The Wide World trilogy. The story flits between Max, his associates in Paris, and his family. All must face threats from hostile parties as they attempt to get to the crux of their own mystery. Naturally, a lot of this was foreshadowed in the first volume, The Ways of the World.

Goddard has a generally breezy style well suited to the political thriller/whodunnit and I found this novel to be a satisfactory page-turner. The characters are fairly well rounded and not complete stereotypes. The plot moves at an acceptable pace, and the mystery stays mysterious – kind of important as this is the middle book of a trilogy.

I liked The Corners of the Globe and want to read the finale, The Ends of the Earth in which I expect the main protagonists to have a Japanese vacation.

We’ve all seen him: the man – the monster – staring from the front page of every newspaper, accused of a terrible crime.

But what about her: the woman who grips his arm on the courtroom stairs – the wife who stands by him?
Jean Taylor’s life was blissfully ordinary. Nice house, nice husband. Glen was all she’d ever wanted: her Prince Charming.

Until he became that man accused, that monster on the front page. Jean was married to a man everyone thought capable of unimaginable evil.

But now Glen is dead and she’s alone for the first time, free to tell her story on her own terms.

Jean Taylor is going to tell us what she knows.

The Widow

Fiona Barton


Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan Butterworth

Jean Taylor has had two years in the spotlight after her husband Glen had been accused of being involved in the disappearance of three year old Bella Elliot. Her mother Dawn had been inside doing household chores when Bella ran outside, following her cat into the small front garden. When Dawn went to call her a few minutes later, there was no trace.  Now Glen is dead after being hit by a bus and public interest in the case has returned.

When Dawn rang 999 to report Bella’s disappearance to the police, Detective Inspector Bob Sparkes headed up the investigation. The Police rapidly came to the conclusion that this is no simple abduction.  Glen Taylor became a Person of Interest to the investigation when a neighbour of Dawn’s remembered down a blue van similar to Taylor’s van in the area at about the time of Bella’s disappearance.  As the investigation continues into Glen and Jean Taylor’s background, discrepancies appear. Their computer is seized by the Police so that forensics can do a search of the hard drive.

Kate Waters, a reporter for the Daily Post, wants to tell Jean’s side of the story.  Jean finds herself targeted by reporters who want to know everything she’s been holding back all these years.  She eventually gives in to the pressure of the press and sells her story to Kate.

Told from the perspective of these three characters, the story shifts back and forth in time – from the crime in 2006 to glen’s death in 2010.  I found it easy to keep track of whose point of view it was, even with the time shift, as each chapter was labelled by perspective: The Detective, The Reporter, The Husband, and The Widow, and what date it was.

I found this a well written page turner that was hard to put down as I had to find out the whom and why regarding Bella Elliot’s disappearance and possible death. The book had a good plot and flowed along at a steady pace, holding my interest right up until the ending which was a bit of a surprise ut very clever and it wrapped the story up neatly.

I recommend this book to any fan of psychological suspense novels.

Julia is terrified by her daughter’s aggressive behaviour. Lily has changed from an angelic little girl into someone she is afraid to be alone with.

What scares Julia most, though, is that she knows why Lily is acting this way, but no-one will believe her. If she is going to help Lily, she will have to find the answers alone, embarking on a search that will take her to the shadowy back streets of Venice.

There Julia finds far more than just answers, and uncovers a heartbreaking, long-buried tale of tragedy and devastation. And this discovery has put her in serious danger . . .

Playing With Fire

Tess Gerritsen

Bantam Press

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan Butterworth

Julia, a talented violinist, is scared of her 3 year old daughter after incidents when Lily turned extremely violent, killing the family cat and stabbing her mother repeatedly.  Julia realises Lily’s behaviourr changes from angelic to psychotic when she plays an original piece of music she found tucked inside a book of Romany tunes she bought in an antique store in Venice. The story starts to intertwine with that of Lorenzo, a young Italian-Jewish violinist in the 1930’s.

Julia enlists a friend to help her find out more about the music and they contact the antique store owner, who is murdered before they get answers.  Meanwhile Lorenzo’s story is slowly played out with the gradual erosion of freedoms for Jewish people.  Julia and her friend fly to Venice in search of answers, where they find out what happened to the composer of the piece of music.  The mystery deepens and soon Julia is in fear for her life…..

This is such a well-written book.   I really enjoyed the two different stories and how they weaved together at the end.  It was hard to read of the Italian family’s refusal to leave – “Mussolini’s a good man and won’t turn on us” – particularly as you know how it will end.  I was screaming in my head for them to run but it gives an insight into why many stayed.

The chapters are prefaced by a page with the name of the person who’s POV it is, so it’s easy to follow whose story you’re reading.  The plot is well thought out, with many twist and turns and the answers to a mystery revealed at the end.  Fans of thrillers will love this book.

READ IT!!!!!

Suburban New Jersey Detective Napoleon “Nap” Dumas hasn’t been the same since senior year of high school, when his twin brother Leo and Leo’s girlfriend Diana were found dead on the railroad tracks—and Maura, the girl Nap considered the love of his life, broke up with him and disappeared without explanation. For fifteen years, Nap has been searching, both for Maura and for the real reason behind his brother’s death. And now, it looks as though he may finally find what he’s been looking for.

When Maura’s fingerprints turn up in the rental car of a suspected murderer, Nap embarks on a quest for answers that only leads to more questions—about the woman he loved, about the childhood friends he thought he knew, about the abandoned military base near where he grew up, and mostly about Leo and Diana—whose deaths are darker and far more sinister than Nap ever dared imagine.


Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

Napoleon “Nap” Dumas is a detective in a small New Jersey town.  He’s been searching for answers for the last fifteen years, since his senior year in high school.  Nap’s twin brother Leo and his girlfriend Diana were found dead on the railroad tracks in their hometown and the exact cause of death was never determined.  At the same time, Nap’s high school girlfriend, Maura, disappeared.  He never got over losing all three of them at once and has never been the same.

Fifteen years later, Maura’s finger prints are found at the scene of a crime in a nearby town.  Nap is sure this is linked to what happened to his brother and is determined to uncover the truth.  The journey is dangerous, twisted and full of surprises.

Based on true events, the story is a wild rollercoaster ride that leaves you breathless and is unputdownable.  The story is full of intrigue and suspense with some humour and romance added in, not formulatic in any way, and the writing flows well.  An excellent stand-alone thriller; if you’/’re a Coben fan, you’ll love this.  If you haven’t read his books before, you’ll become a huge fan. Highly recommended.

stay alive

Amanda arrives home unexpectedly and interrupts the torture and murder of her husband and his mistress by a depraved serial killer known as The Disciple. She manages to flee and, abandoning her whole life she changes her identity and buries herself in the peace and tranquillity of the remote Scottish wilderness.

Jess and her little sister Casey have gone canoeing with with their aunt and uncle who adopted Casey after their mum died. A shot rings out and suddenly they are fighting for their lives against armed men.   They’re chasing Amanda, who evades the killers with the girls. Then they are found by Scope, who is working at the canoe company and looking for them.

Ah Scope. I was thrilled he returned as he’s a great hero to read about. As with other Scope books there is a lot of action and it’s fast-paced and tightly plotted, with information slowly being revealed. The chapters are short and easy to follow, with them alternating from different POVs. You can jump right in as there is just enough background info given to explain things without having read previous books. The plot twist was unexpected and I really didn’t see it coming.


Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

die again

Detective Jane Rizzoli and forensic pathologist Maura Isles are investigating the brutal murder of a well known game hunter taxidermist Leon Gott. Discovering he was working for a radio shock jock pro-hunter that was vocal about his views, they were looking into animal rights extremists when another body turned up.

Six years ago, a group of travellers set off on an African safari. None of them are seen again – apart from one woman who stumbled out of the bush weeks later, barely alive. The only woman to have seen the killer’s face. The cases don’t seem related to anyone but Rizzoli and she flies to Africa to meet the survivor and prove her theory.

Wow, how had I missed previous Rizolli & Isles books? & the TV series based on the books?!

The plot was very clever and flowed seamlessly between the two stories. How he two story lines link comes out bit by bit and is a series of ‘a-ha moments’ and full of twists and turns. I loved the characters, very take-no-prisoners kick-ass women. I found the book unputdownable and an excellent read which I highly recommend to thriller fans.

Bantam Press

Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

I’d never heard of Cotard’s syndrome, but Wikipedia has enough of an entry to convince me that it is a very real although rare mental condition, in which a person actually does believe that they are dead. Jacob Underwood has thought of himself as deceased, to be no more than a spark within a shell, ever since a near fatal motorcycle accident. He feels nothing, and that makes him a perfect assassin in a world which sees everything. Set in a very believable dystopian near future, “Spark” is a psychological thriller with a distinctively Orwellian edge. Big Brother – or rather the EYE system – really is watching you, just one step into the future; having been created in a response to an atrocity called the “Day of Rage” which is eerily reminiscent of the massacre of school children that just occurred in Pakistan.

This really is a remarkable book. It drew me in, and grabbed me, and demanded that I keep reading. Jacob, for all his amorality, is a strangely sympathetic protagonist, especially as he begins to re-discover himself and the possibility of feeling… which begins when he finds himself reluctant to follow orders to kill a child, for no other reason than that the child has the wrong parents. The plot presses relentlessly onwards to its thrilling (and somewhat open-ended) conclusion. But there’s more to it than that, because we are compelled to question the nature of morality, even of our own personal reality. And like the best science fiction this book presents the reader with issues to think about ahead of their time – especially regarding the role of humanoid robots in the workplace, and the consequences of total surveillance. I do recommend this book… there is a fair amount of violence, none of it gratuitous; and an absence of profanity (often associated with emotional outbursts, and Jacob doesn’t do emotions). More importantly, this a book that will both entertain you and make you think.


Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui