Stone Cold, Stone Dead
A mystery set in Somerset and London
by Margaret Duffy
Severn House Publishers
Mystery & Thrillers
Pub Date 01 Oct 2018
Rarely has there been such a complementary pair as Patrick and Ingrid - intellectually and physically. Patrick Gillard, formerly of MI5, now working for the National Crime Agency, has a long list of enemies, some hopefully dead, but others who have apparently cheated the grave and now have plans to finish what they started.
The Patrick and Ingrid Gillard thrillers are twisty but believable tales, which have a strong human component. Patrick is disabled, but it doesn’t slow him down. (He has two artificial legs). Just as there are evil and weak characters, there are ones who are kind and funny. It varies, and the foibles of individuals impact the plot a great deal. One of the subplots of Stone Cold, Stone Dead, involve a pair of supposed lay readers attempting to intimidate Patrick’s mother into leaving her home. Through promis...
Lost Solace by Karl Drinkwater
Multicultural Interest , Sci Fi & Fantasy
Pub Date 31 Oct 2017
Solace is exciting fluff. What it lacks in plot, it more than makes up for in action - lots of explosions, gunfights, sneaking past enemies, space combat, etc… By keeping the action going nonstop, readers don’t have much time to notice plot holes or question inconsistencies. Drinkwater does a better job developing his two central characters - Opal (a former soldier) and Clarissa ( the experimental AI on the ship Opal stole). It would have been nice to have been given more of Opal’s background and how / why she was able to hack into Clarissa. Too much hand wavy magic ( technology) can do anything.
Simply put, Opal is looking for a lost ship to find something in particular - yup that nebulous. She finds one in the process of falling into the gravitational well of a neutron star. Of course lots of alien stuff tries to a) stop her from boarding b) kill her. And the...
The idea of an antisocial synthetic being becoming involved in human issues, often against his better judgment is an appealing one. Rin, as he calls himself here, pretends to be an augmented human, but is in reality a rogue SecUnit - rogue because he doesn’t have an owner and follows his own agenda. While helping humans is far from his first priority - if it helps him attain his goals….
Rogue Protocol is a short novel with a straightforward action heavy plot. Rin (the name Murderbot adopts) is pursuing evidence against GrayCris a large and influential corporation. This takes him to Milu where GrayCris was supposedly terraforming - but actually excavating alien ruins. Vital evidence may still be present, despite the abandonment of the base. Rin stows along with a team of researchers, their humanoid robot and two bodyguards on an expedition to the base. Needless...
Rise and Run by RJ Plant
Mystery & Thrillers , Sci Fi & Fantasy
Pub Date 13 Feb 2018
Rise and Run is a dystopian thriller that shows R J Plant’s potential as a writer. The premise is an interesting take on the Jeckyl/Hyde duology. Felix is a genetically engineered chimera with two distinct and competing sets of DNA. Medication suppresses his brother Conor. As his adoptive father, Rian’s enforcer, Felix is tasked with infiltrating GDI and protecting Kaitlyn, a scientist in their employ, from death threats. Felix quickly discovers the situation is a setup when the leader of GDI infects him with a lethal, fast-acting virus. Conor is forced to take control, and must ally with people he doesn’t trust in the hopes of finding a cure and preventing GDI from destroying what’s left of humanity.
The novel’s biggest flaw is that it ends rather suddenly. The issues raised are far from resolved, and there is little indication of when the next book in the serie...
Implanted by Lauren C. Teffeau
Sci Fi & Fantasy
Pub Date 07 Aug 2018
Implanted rests on a unique premise - data can be encoded and stored in a person’s bloodstream. The world of Implanted is divided into the haves and the have nots. The haves, the affluent, educated and implanted live in the luxurious upper levels of the domed city. The have nots, the poor, the working class and those without implants live on the lower levels, struggling. The area beyond the dome is only now beginning to have the means to support life and the prospect of Emergence has created tensions around the city. Blackmailed into giving up her former life and becoming a blood courier, Emery finds herself in a difficult situation. The data drop she is assigned is rigged, some want the data others want it destroyed, and there is only one person she can afford to trust.
Implanted has a decent plot, but it feels more like a New Adult Sci Fi novel than a Cyberpunk thriller. Emery’...
Blood Ghast Blues Standalone Sequel to Black Box Inc.
by Jake Bible
Bell Bridge Books
Horror , Sci Fi & Fantasy
Pub Date 13 Apr 2018
If the A-Team were able to kick butt with magic as well as munitions, then they would probably look something like Chase Lawter and his team. An omnisexual yeti, a Fae trained assassin, a zombie business manager and Chase - the only known worker of dim - make for a group as vibrant and varied as the iconic 80s commandos. It”s difficult to say whether I enjoy the action or the banter more. Despite having the occasional squabble, Black Box Inc works as a team, and will always stand up for each other.
In Blood Ghast Blues, Chase is given an offer that he can’t refuse. The day starts like any other. A client who hasn’t paid his bill needs Chase to open his “box”. To facilitate things, a local crimelord, The One Guy offers to pay the bill. But this is only the first odd event. Someone has summoned blood ghasts and they are leaving blood and ter...
IT TAKES DEATH TO REACH A STAR by Stu Jones & Gareth Worthington
Literary Fiction , Sci Fi & Fantasy
Pub Date 22 May 2018
It Takes Death to Reach a Star depicts a dystopian future where the last of society is divided between the Graciles, genetically engineered individuals who live in luxury above, and the Robusts, the plague survivors who struggle in the frozen habitats below. The Robust population of Eytom is divided into walled segments according to belief. Travel between is dangerous, as violent, cannibalistic outcasts live between sectors. The two central characters are Mila, a courier and Demetri, a gracile struggling to keep a secret that could lead to his death. As you might expect, they end up working together to stop a plot that would result in the destruction of life as they know it.
I have mixed feelings about It Takes Death to Reach a Star. I did like how the authors went counter stereotype, portraying the very real fear a person like De...
Small independent publishers can be hit or miss on quality. There are times however that you find a gem. Jason Mather’s Shadow Life is one such gem. It is a suspenseful science fiction thriller with plenty of fast paced action. Mather does a bang up job of keeping the reader’s attention while only slowly revealing the novel’s secrets. And then there are the characters. Each is flawed, damaged in some way, but they have a nobility that makes you care about them. The villains, particularly Brigham (who may remind you of the orange cheeto in office) are detestable. Brigham is the misogynist who leads the strictly religious Salt Lake City, where women are property and population growth is out of control.
The novel begins with the death of Hans and his reawakening. Technology allows for the rebuilding of the human body, but the mind is another question entirely. The situation that...
A Long Way Down is a bit different from your average police procedural. Sep Black is a DI, but he acts as a lone wolf, bending the rules in order to get results. His newest case both intrigues him and falls under the purview of the team to which he is assigned, the cold case squad. A journalist’s wife is convinced that her husband’s death is related to a case he was investigating- the death of a rich businessmen. As her husband died in a rundown hotel known for prostitution his death was dismissed as a mugging. His widow wants Sep to find the truth and she is willing to pay 50k to get answers.
Unlike many British police procedurals, A Long Way Down is heavy on action - exploding cars, gunfights, chases. Sep breaks rules with impunity, lies endlessly and doesn't worry about injuring suspects. He is charming, handsome and has a winning way with reluctant witnesses. Expect...
Integral isn't bad once you get into the story. It gets off to a rocky start not because it's badly written, but because you aren't given much of a reason to care. It took a long time to connect to the protagonists - two Vampire investigators (similar to FBI agents but the country is run by corporations rather than a federal government). The initial half of the novel are seemingly unrelated cases, giving it the feel of an anthology or serial. There’s more meat when you get to the core story of a Mage who breaks out of their university (prison) and is forced to assassinate a vampire leader. The duo, plus a warden from the university and the Mage herself are forced to deal with the fallout.
There are numerous loose ends left - the drug jester, the individual bitten who may or may not be an undiscovered Mage left to turn into a vampire after an attack by a drug mad va...