Review – Faithful Place

Faithful PlaceFrank Mackey is a man who has purposely avoided his family for years. He ran away as a teenager and never looked back. When he gets a call from the one sister he speaks to telling him that information regarding his long lost girlfriend, Rosie Daly, has surfaced, he doesn’t know if he should run to his family or run further away. A man who has gone to extraordinary efforts to stay away from his family, he soon finds himself back home in Faithful Place; a neighborhood full of people with long memories and people that doesn’t easily offer forgiveness. After 22 years of trying to forget Rosie, his childhood, and in some ways his own family, he’s back home fighting with his mother and siblings, and thinking of ways to once more run away. When a favorite brother dies, and Frank’s only daughter is drug into the mess, he begins to realize just how deep he’s in.

The character of Frank Mackey was in The Likeness, French’s second book, but he’s much more intense in Faithful Place. His family and childhood home can never be described as a happy or content place and illustrate clearly just how much he’s managed to escape over the years and reinforce his actions, in his mind anyway. His very rosy memories of his missing girlfriend, which were buried deep by the years, come back full force and with his teenage romance memories come buried family memories, and he starts to drown in life.

Tana French is an amazing writer and I’ve started telling everyone I know they need to read her books. True story. In fact, when possible, I’ve shared my copies with anyone willing to read them. And that has been a benefit to me. You see, this was a borrowed book. I shared In The Woods and The Likeness with a co-worker and he went out and bought Faithful Place and gave it to me when he was done. He also plans on picking up Broken Harbor and promised to lend me that too. Sharing just works out in your favor some days.

French writes stories you don’t want to put down. She’s great at twists and turns, but I did figure out the killer early on in this one. I promised my co-worker I wouldn’t read ahead to find out who the killer was which was incredibly hard for me not to do. I ended up in his office asking questions instead. I can guarantee he won’t me ask me to promise that again. Anyway, he ended up telling me I had the right person but I think he was annoyed I figured it out. But, I think it was meant to be seen by the reader. You see, it was Frank that needed to work it out not the reader. You see him trying to do just that and I wanted to yell at him and that’s where French is so good. She brings the reader into the story and you end up investing so much in the characters and story that it’s draining but all in a good way. I love books that leave me feeling that way in the end. Reading should be an experience.

If you’re curious, my thoughts on French’s first two books In the Woods and The Likeness.

Faithful Place

By Tana French

Penguin Books

ISBN: 9780143119494

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Review – All Seeing Eye

Jackson Lee Eye is a man with a thing about touching — he doesn’t do it. When he does, he can see everything that happens in that person’s life; the good, the bad, and the mundane. It started when he was 14. He found the shoe of his younger sister Tess lying on the ground, and picking it up, saw her dead in a well. That vision, and the aftermath, haunts him every day of his life. After finding the shoe, he saw his mother murdered and he himself pulled the trigger on his step-father. After years in a state home, he escapes and makes a living using the only skill he has, the ability to read people. When a scientist comes knocking on his door asking him to become part of a study, he goes on high alert. As it turns out, he’s being blackmailed by the government. Forced to help the military bring an end to an experiment gone wrong, he finds himself re-living the events of others and he knows this little experiment will leave him with nightmares for the rest of his life.

This was the book I was in the mood for. I wanted a little creepy, a little dark, and I got it. And the characters — well, at least one — were likable. Jackson Lee Eye and his dog Houdini were very likable characters and the others provided the creep factor I was looking for.

I expected a twist and got it, and it happened in the way I wanted it to which made this a very satisfying read. In fact, I devoured the book. I don’t have an explanation for this but I always, no matter what, enjoy stories where one or more of the characters are a psychic. I have no reason why but I just love it. And I loved how Jackson reacted to each person and what he/she was hiding. In some cases, the sociopathic natures were more interesting than the characters themselves because I kept waiting for these people to reveal themselves.

Being a person that reads the last few pages of a book early on, I was slightly surprised to see a little twist at the end that I didn’t catch. Yep, I may not like surprises all that much (really, I read the last page before I hit page 10, what would you expect me to say here) but I liked the one I came across here. I guess you can say it’s still nice to be surprised by characters.

I’m being evasive and that’s intentional. I try my best not to give away spoilers and this story unfolds in a way that I don’t want to give away because that’s the fun of it. If you’re looking for a good October book, one to curl up with on a windy fall evening, well, here’s one. It’s a fast moving thriller that will make for a good evening read.

All Seeing Eye

By Rob Thurman

Pocket Books

ISBN: 9781451652222

4 stars

Review – In The Woods

Tana French is a new to me author. I’m sorry I waited so long to read her too. I kept seeing rave reviews of her books and now I know why. She deserves the praise.

In Dublin, Rob Ryan is a detective waiting for a case. He’s spent time and effort waiting for the perfect case that will make his career and when that one drops in his lap, it’s not at all what he wanted. In a small town outside of Dublin called Knocknaree, a 12 year old girl is found murdered at an archeological site. Her father is the leader of the group protesting the building of a roadway through the town and it leaves everyone wondering if the murder could be a warning to him to cease his fight. When that leads nowhere, Rob and his partner Cassie Maddox are forced to look elsewhere for answers. And all through the investigation Rob is trying to come to terms with his past. When he was a small child, he and two other friends went missing in the same woods that are now being searched for clues to the current murder. He wants his memories to return, in fact wills them to, but nothing useful comes of it and his life, the one he carefully planned down to his wardrobe, comes tumbling down around him.

There is so much going on in this book and in the end it doesn’t feel as if it’s enough. The details are fantastic and the way French introduces you to her characters — opening up slowly, peeling back layers — you see just how complicated and messed up they all are in this book. They’re all broken in some way and trying hard to make sure the lives of others are at the very least put back in place with answers to their questions. Rob and Cassie know they can’t fix others, and especially not themselves, but they try to cover every single thread that’s available to them even when it leads places they don’t want to go.

Honestly, while the murder that takes place is solved, and satisfactorily at that, with a suspect I didn’t see coming but should have once the story got going, what I wanted to know about was what happened to the kids twenty years ago in the woods of Knocknaree. There’s no answer and I was OK with that but still wanted to know because it was so tantalizing. It was too interesting to just let go and my mind kept making up scenarios. Rob does make attempts at remembering and those snippets only add more to the mystery and unwanted drama to his life. You know the questions won’t be answered although you do get enough detail to round out the story. I liked how the disappearance almost had a mythical reason to it but then again, what do the memories of a young boy really mean when the event that brought on the memories was a traumatic one?

I know this book isn’t necessarily a series but I do know if I pick up another Tana French book it will still be the same sort of setting but with some old and new characters. You know what, bring it on.

In The Woods

By Tana French

Penguin Books

ISBN: 9780143113492

4 stars

 

Review – Heat Wave

Heat Wave

By Richard Castle

Hyperion

EAN: 9781401394769

3.5 stars

Nikki Heat is one of New York’s finest with a new case on her hands — a millionaire real estate developer found dead on the sidewalk in front of his exclusive Manhattan apartment.  Saddled with Jameson Rook, a celebrity journalist who somehow managed to get himself on a ride along, she begins her investigation at the same time a heat wave hits the city.

Sometimes all I want is a good old fashioned crime novel full of clichés, bad dialogue, and a criminal that sticks out from the first time you meet him/her on the page.  I got what I wanted out of this one.  It was all the above and more.  Parts of it made me laugh, cringe, and not once did any of it make me want to stop reading.  I know these books are the basis for the TV show Castle (or the other way around, I don’t know) which I’ve never seen, but now I may watch an episode just to see what it’s like.  It probably would have been helpful to have seen the show before reading this book too but I looked past a few things and went with it when I came to something that a person who watches the show probably would have known.

At its heart, Heat Wave, is a cop book.  It moved fast and entertained and that was what I needed at the time.  I have a soft spot for Lee Child novels but I think I may add a few Castle books to my crime thriller list for when the need strikes.

Review – The Hard Way

The Hard Way

By Lee Child

Bantam Dell

ISBN:978-0-440-24103-4

4 stars

I’ve read a number of Lee Child’s books and there is one overriding thing I need to remind myself to do each time I start one — forget reality.  Please don’t take this to mean that I don’t like the books, because I do, it’s just that his characters, Jack Reacher in particular, always end up in the craziest situations that a person, a sane person, would have walked away from or never become involved in to begin with.  But, that is what also makes them interesting, so now I just go with the forget all reality tactic and I find enjoy the books much better.

Jack Reacher is back in New York City and spending time in a café drinking coffee, a favorite pastime of his.  One evening, he sees a man get into a car and drive away.  The next day, he’s approached about the small but rather forgettable event and ends up drawn into a kidnapping case that also involves a handful of rouge mercenaries on call for the U.S. government.  Unsure of how to walk away from the group he’s found himself oddly tied to because he can’t be certain that the kidnapped mother and daughter will be safe, he gets drawn deeper into the case and goes out of his way to help rescue two people he’s never met.

Oh, Reacher, how do you manage to rescue so many people in so short a time?  Also, how is it you manage to always be in the right place when trouble happens?  I want to be annoyed with these books because there is a huge disconnect between what happens and general reality (You know, reality for normal people.) but I can’t be.  Once I let go and fall into these books, I can’t help it, I’m stuck until I find out that Reacher has managed to save someone, stop something from blowing up, or just save the world in general.  I’m not a thriller reader either but these books put me into some sort of catatonic reading mode and I have to finish and find out that everything has worked out fine in the end.  I say that because everything always works out fine in the end.  At least that’s been the case for the books I’ve read in the Reacher series.

A co-worker of mine lends these books to me and I’ll admit there have been a few bombs along the way but for the most part, I enjoy them.  They’re one off books which can be read in one sitting and you don’t have to have read them in any sort of order to understand the plot.  By the way, the plot is pretty much always the same — something bad happens, Reacher shows up, saves the day.  These are books you pull out on a rainy or slow day and you just read.  You’ll be entertained by the end and glad that a co-worker loaned you that book.  You’ll also be tempted to write something nice about their sharing abilities so they loan you more.