Saturday, January 19, 2019

Review: The Silent Games by Alex Gray

The Silent Games (DCI Lorimer, Book #11)
by Alex Gray
Release Date: March 13th 2018
2018 Witness Impulse (first published March 13th 2014)
Softcover Edition; 432 Pages
ISBN: 978-184744
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.5 / 5 Stars

DS William Lorimer has a lot on his hands. The Commonwealth Games will soon begin in Glasgow, and there’s been a credible threat of homegrown terrorism. 

When a big explosion, perhaps a trial run, causes extensive damage in a wooded area, Lorimer is seconded to help the counterterrorism force in their investigation. At the same time, he can’t resist an invitation to attend a school reunion run by his first love, Vivien Fox Gilmartin, whom he finds just as lovely as she was when she broke up with him to pursue an acting career. 

After their reunion, Vivien phones him hysterically to say that she’s found her husband, Charles, a famous theater director, dead in the flat they’re renting while he works to bring African theater groups to Scotland. His death appears to be a heart attack, but forensics show that he was poisoned. In addition, the police learn of the discovery of the body of a young African woman who has only a small tattoo as a clue to her identity. They suspect that she was part of a scheme to provide sex workers for the influx of visitors to the games. Since Vivien has no other friends in the area, Lorimer and his wife, Maggie, take her in while her husband’s murder is under investigation. Maggie berates herself for feeling that Vivien is less interested in her late husband than in Lorimer, who must hand off the case because he’s personally involved. 

Tracking down the tattoo leads to more stolen girls and a man who may be involved in both the trafficking and the terrorism, but Charles’ death remains a mystery.

My Thoughts
The Silent Games, the eleventh book in the DCI Lorimer series, definitely had an interesting premise which is what drew me to the story.  With all of the terrorism going on in the world and with recent bombings at important events, I was curious as to how this author would approach the subject in her story.  And while it was quite interesting, and took a turn I wasn't quite expecting, there were still elements I thought were left unexplored and I was not quite satisfied with the conclusion to this book.

First of all, I enjoy DCI Lorimer as a main character.  He is definitely competent at his job, dedicated, and always means to do the right thing.  He is very aware of his position as a leader of men and tries to ensure that his behaviour is beyond reproach as he knows that his men look up to him and want to learn from him.  That being said, he is also no push-over and can be quite aggressive when he needs to be; he has just learned when to push and when it is necessary to take a different route to get the answers he needs.  I was very pleased to see a character from a previous novel show up in this one and is now playing a bigger role, Kirsty Wilson.  She is now working for Lorimer, learning the ropes, and is as dedicated to the job as her father and Lorimer.  It was kind of interesting to see how she is learning the job and her frustration at being held back at times simply because she dd not have the experience to be involved in certain delicate situations; and when she did mess up, she got into trouble.  I really like her character and hope to see much more of her in the future.

This story can be pretty gritty as it deals with human traficking so of the scenes are hard to read, but there is so much of this sadly going on in our society it is almost scary and I feel that we need to face the issue.  The scenes probably don't do the ordeal these girls face justice to be honest, but I honestly don't think I could read them if it was any more explicit.   Unfortunately, while I did like the story, I did feel like there were quite a lot of holes in it which was a bit frustrating to read, somewhat predictable, and I didn't like the ending.  I really felt like the writing was too light for the subject matter in this one.  Bombing and human trafficking are serious subjects and can't be written about lightly.  I also was not crazy about the whole ex-girlfriend scenario - I think the whole thing could have been written right out of the book and it wouldn't have made a difference.  Maggie, you are one amazing woman!

The Silent Games was no my favourite book in the series although there were definitely some good moments in it.  I enjoyed the continuing character development: I was happy to see more of Kirsty and Maggie in this one and learn more about them.  The overall plot was interesting but I just felt like there was too much going on and the author kind of lost track of some of the plot lines throughout which made it feel loose and unconnected at times.  Will I read another book by this author?  Oh, definitely.  There was enough good stuff in this one to keep me going and I am not finished with DCI Lorimer as of yet.
Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Review: Be Our Ghost by Kate Kingsbury

Be Our Ghost (Merry Ghost Inn, Book #3)
by Kate Kingsbury
Release Date: October 9th 2018
2018 Crooked Lane Books
Kindle Edition; 278 Pages
ISBN: 978-1683317845
Genre: Fiction / Cozy Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

The Merry Ghost Inn is well and truly open for business. Melanie West and her grandmother, Liza, are rapidly getting the hang of running their charming bed-and-breakfast inn on the rocky Oregon coast. Not that business goes without a hitch—when your hostelry boasts its own laughing resident ghost, you’d better be expect the out-of-the-ordinary. But Melanie and Liza take it all in stride…until a hotshot real estate developer arrives in Sully’s Landing, touting his plans to build a tacky amusement arcade smack dab in the middle of the tasteful cliff-side town.

No one in Sully’s Landing can stand the gaudy developer, but it’s still a shock when he ends up murdered. It’s even more shocking when Liza’s friend, Doug, emerges as the chief suspect. Melanie and Liza put on their sleuthing caps yet again and set out to clear Doug’s name.

My Thoughts
Be Our Ghost is the third book in a cozy mystery series featuring Melanie and her grandmother Liza. Unfortunately, I didn't like this one as much as the first two and while it wasn't a boring book or uninteresting, there were just too many things that bothered and distracted me throughout.

First of all, I really do enjoy Melanie as a main character but I am not yet sold on Liza.  I get that the author is trying to make Liza come across as sassy and scrappy and all that, but sometimes it rings a bit false and I was not always impressed by her personality. She could be a bit rude and obnoxious, and to be honest, I could do without her comments on someone else's dress style and habits. Perhaps a bit too much time was spent on discussing their assistant's clothing and bad eating habits and it got old, fast. I do like how the two interact with each other though, and you can tell that Melanie really cares about her grandmother and is willing to do anything for her.  But I really wish she would stand up to her once in a while!! And that ex of hers. Yikes!

Melanie and Liza own the Merry Ghost Inn which even comes with its own resident ghost.  I enjoyed the paranormal element but as of yet have learned almost nothing about Orville and why he is there which has been a bit frustrating.  I would definitely enjoy more ghostly encounters and would love to learn more about him.  While the tease was interesting at the beginning, it kind of gets irritating as the story moves along and you find out pretty much...nothing.  There are a lot of moments in the kitchen working on various recipes and things, but there was very little interaction with the guests.  And you would never know they were running an inn by their behaviour, that's for sure.  Melanie and Liza took off at a moment's notice to investigate and to do other things, sometimes leaving an assistant behind, sometimes not.  I actually began to wonder how they actually ran the inn if they were never there.  I think less details about breakfast and more interactions with their guests would make this a bit more realistic. 

The investigation was interesting but I feel like the duo needed to work on their approach with people when it came to investigating as the way it was written it was fairly easy to figure out the murderer. And I know that if Liza approached me the way she approached some of the people in this book, I would be a bit upset as well and tossed her on her backside out the door.  Sometimes age is not an excuse for rudeness.  And while the attempt was made to misdirect and twist things around, it didn't really work on me.  That being said however, it was definitely interesting meeting the people in this world and I would like to meet a lot of them again as I sense some interesting stories on the horizon. 

Be Our Ghost is one of those books that, while enjoyable on a superficial level, was a bit of a letdown in other areas.  I think having paying guests stay at a haunted inn and then having no interaction with them whatsoever in the book is a bit of a letdown.  While I understand the main mystery was not focused on the inn this time out, it really makes no difference; no ghostly activity at the inn means no ghostly haunted inn.  I also had a harder time accepting Liza and her personality in this one; I just couldn't get past her abrasiveness.  I did really like a lot of the other characters though, so I hope to see more of them in future installments of this series.  Would I recommend this series? I think so, and there is so much potential here that I am still interested seeing what happens next.