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Reviews

October 2013

Kathy Reichs - Bones In Her Pocket

"...punchy and direct."

Synopsis:
In her laboratory Professor Temperance Brennan has a few unidentified leg bones that need to be investigated. When another suspicious find is made at a man-made lake north of Charlotte, the site of the discovery of the bones, she is immediately called out. This proves to be a more recent complete corpse and is identified as a grad student already reported missing, Edith Blankenship. Edith has been volunteering at the Carolina Raptor Centre, run by raptor enthusiast, Doris Kramer. There she met Herman Blount, an extreme eco warrior, also interested in the life of owls, which is Edith's graduation thesis.

Edith has been murdered and her body dumped. In her usual expert fashion, Kathy Reichs describes the forensic anthropology that Tempe Brennan employs to discover the true murderer. Along with this knowledge comes evidence of extreme animal cruelty. Discovery of this abuse is what led to Edith's death.

Review:
This is a short story published as an e-book with all the characteristics of the full length big brother, but simpler. Here we find a good story line which engages the reader and moves quickly with some of the characters that populate Reich's novels, and above all the insider professional knowledge that makes the reader gasp. As a short story in e-format it is perfect for the long journey or the regular commute - engrossing but easily finished. The style remains punchy and direct. Sometimes this can be irritating but in this story it is fine as it suits the format. As a Reich's fan I really enjoyed this story and it definitely made my journey appear that much quicker.

Reviewed by: S.D.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Zoe Sharp - The Blood Whisperer

"Written throughout with dexterity, a searing pace and an artisan’s eye for detail, ‘The Blood Whisperer’ is a first class thriller..."

Synopsis:
The uncanny abilities of crime-scene analyst Kelly Jacks to coax evidence from the least promising crime scenes once earned her the nickname The Blood Whisperer. Six years ago, everything changed when Kelly awoke next to the body of a man who'd been butchered, a knife in her hand and no memory of what had happened. She trusted the evidence to prove her innocence. It didn't.

After her release from prison, Kelly must try to re-assemble her life. Shunned by former colleagues and friends, the only job she can find is with a firm of a crime scene cleaners run by her old mentor. But old habits die hard, and when her instincts tell her things aren't as they appear at the scene of a suicide, she can't help but start asking questions someone doesn't want answered.

Plunged into the nightmare of being branded a killer once again, Kelly finds herself on the run, pursued by the police, Russian thugs and a local gangster. Betrayed at every turn she finds her options rapidly diminishing, but Kelly learned a whole new skill-set while imprisoned. Street-smart and wary she has to use all her skills, old and new to stay alive long enough to clear her name.

Review:
I'm a relatively recent convert to the world of Zoë Sharp – best known for her excellent Charlie Fox novels – so I was very keen to see what she could do when she stepped away from her series character. Let me tell you, Sharp has matched her previous works and raised the bar with an intelligent thriller which is both thoughtful and action packed. No mean feat.

'The Blood Whisperer' works as a kind of everyman novel although Kelly does have a connection to the police it is a tenuous one at best. The plotting is first class and while I worked out some of the clues and twists in advance, I only got there a couple of pages before Sharp made her reveal. I suspect this was the author's intention all along. Sharp may be a lady, but she led me throughout the dance between author and reader.

Kelly Jacks was drawn with a consummate skill which had me rooting for her from page one. Innovative with her thinking, she kept going, determined to exonerate herself and unmask her pursuers. Lytton, O'Neill, Dmitry and Grogan were all well constructed but of the supporting cast it was Myshka who dominated with her empowered presence.

Written throughout with dexterity, a searing pace and an artisan's eye for detail, 'The Blood Whisperer' is a first class thriller which proves Zoë Sharp can step away from her comfort zone without losing one iota of her trademark panache. It is little wonder Stuart MacBride describes her as the best kept secret in crime writing.

Reviewed by: G.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Linwood Barclay - A Tap On The Window

"...Barclay back on form and I was totally hooked. Definitely a book that needs to be read."

Synopsis:
When Cal Weaver stops at red light on a rainy night while driving home, he ignores the bedraggled-looking teenaged girl trying to hitch a lift, even when she starts tapping on his window. It isn't until she says, 'Hey, aren't you Scott's dad?' that he realizes she is one of his son's classmates, he can't really ignore her. OK, so giving a ride to a teenage girl might not be the smartest move, but how much harm could it do? Over the next 24 hours Cal is about to find out. When the girl, Claire, asks to stop at a restroom on the way home, he's happy to oblige. But the girl who gets back in the car seems strangely nervous, and it's only when they get nearer their destination that Cal realizes she no longer has the nasty cut that he noticed on Claire's hand.

After he's finally let her out of the car he remains puzzled and intrigued. But it's only the next morning that he starts to really worry. That's when the police cruiser turns up at his door and asks him if he gave a lift to a girl the previous night. A girl who has now been found brutally murdered. If Cal is going to clear his name he's going to have to figure out what Claire was really up to and what part he played in her curious deception. But doing so will involve him in some of the small town of Griffon's most carefully kept secrets - and a conspiracy as bizarre as it is deadly.

Review:
Despite having a title lacking any appeal, this book brings Barclay almost back to his top form. Cal Weaver is finding life hard after the death of his son. When a girl his son knew Scott, used to know asks for a lift one night it is only the start. Cal Weaver is depicted as a father struggling to cope with losing his only child. His emotions go from anger, denile and guilt as he tries to focus on finding the person he believes is responsible for selling his son the drugs that ultimately caused his death.

Barclay really manages to capture the emotions that Cal Weaver is experiencing, giving him plenty of depth. Even with this emotional side to his story, Barclay does not lose sight of his goal or his impetus. Weaver is also looking into the murder of a young girl from the town and this in turn uncovers corruption and secrets from the past. The two plots running side by side work well together and are intertwined. Although the main part of the plot is revealed quite early on, there is still plenty of suspense with a deliciously unexpected twist at the end.

This is definitely not a story with a happy ending and most of the events surrounding Cal could be seen as borderline depressing. However, this is a book that sees Barclay back on form and I was totally hooked. Definitely a book that needs to be read.

Reviewed by: H.A.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Diane Bretherick - City of Demons

"...the end was satisfyingly sharp and gripping."

Synopsis:
Young Doctor James Murray comes to Turin hotfoot from Edinburgh and the rigorous scientific regimen of his tutor Dr Bell to seek out enlightenment from Cesare Lombroso. Lombroso is a renowned criminologist with very decided views on criminal types and famous in his own sphere. Murray has come in the hope of being taken on as Lombroso's assistant and also with a secret desire to clear his mind on the subject of his own father.

Murray is taken on by Lombruso and joins Ottolenghi, the master's other assistant. Together with the policeman, Tullio they become involved in investigating a series of brutal murders that seem to implicate the learned man himself. Surrounding Lombroso is a collection of followers and also critics. Murray admires Lambruso but also has difficulty in accepting some of his more outrageous assertions. He also cannot follow some of Lombruso's logic and reactions to the events that pursue him. Finally after a series of bloody deaths, the man persecuting Lombruso reveals himself and the great man berates himself for not having known sooner.

Review:
I was intrigued by this story as Cesare Lombroso's role in starting the science of criminology is absolutely fascinating. After reading this book I find myself questioning why he had such a great impact. With a modern day view of science some of Lombroso's assertions seem wildly unscientific and unsubstantiated. I appreciate that he was very much of his time and some of his beliefs chimed in with general thinking but I did have problems with the respect that James, a pupil of the rigorous Joseph Bell, had for Lombroso's views.

By the end of the book James himself is less convinced and the writer uses the plot to slowly reveal James' ulterior motive for coming to Italy. I found the beginning of this book a little slow and too involved with Lombroso's pontifications, but as the story moved on the end was satisfyingly sharp and gripping. 'City of Demons' is a very interesting debut novel.

Reviewed by: S.D.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Ian Graham - Veil of Civility

"With this thoroughly impressive debut, Ian Graham has announced himself as an author to keep a very close eye on. "

Synopsis:
During the Soviet-Afghan war an elite team of operatives were trained in the mountains of Afghanistan, loyal to the Provisional IRA, they were known by the codename Black Shuck. In the years which followed – betrayed from within by internal power struggles – the team members were hunted down. Three survived, only to fade into the turbulent streets of Northern Ireland.

Declan McIver has stayed off the radar for years, marrying a beautiful woman and operating a successful business until an invitation from an old friend turns his world upside down. Finding himself and his wife on the run from forces unknown, Declan has to use every ounce of his cunning and training to stay alive.

Review:
One of the best things about being a book reviewer is discovering new and emerging talent. Whether it is unearthing gems such as Gary Dolman through social networking or having an eager faced debutante press their precious novel into your hands with a look of hopeful expectation in their eyes. After reading 'Veil of Civility', I firmly believe I've unearthed an author who is going places.

The plotting is sumptuous as Graham weaves a trail of deceit and duplicity to drive the novel forward with a steadily increasing pace. While basically a chase novel, 'Veil of Civility' is cleverly thought out and utterly plausible.

The characterisation is surprisingly adept for a debut novelist and I found myself giving the appropriate responses to characters as the story unfolded. While not a new concept to have a reformed terrorist as a lead, it does make a pleasant change from the usual ex-special forces soldier. The baddies were suitably nefarious and the support characters were all drawn with aplomb.

With this thoroughly impressive debut, Ian Graham has announced himself as an author to keep a very close eye on. In my opinion, with just a little bit of tighter editing, he could make that step from being very, very good to outstanding.

Reviewed by: G.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Jo Nesbo - Police

"Nesbo is a consummate writer, knows how to toy with his readers and delivers an adrenaline rush of a book. "

Synopsis:
At the end of 'Phantom' Harry Hole is left in a very sticky position indeed. At the beginning of 'Police' his old team in the Oslo police are missing his particular brand of genius. An unnamed patient is being closely guarded in hospital and an unknown killer is taking revenge on a series of police officers and no one knows why. The ambitious and newly promoted Mikael Bellman has his own agenda and is not exactly helping the investigation. People very close to Harry are threatened and brush rather too closely with death.

Review:
This is Nesbo at his best. We have a very clever and determined killer operating with an unknown but powerful motive. We have some very bloody and horrific murders. The sexually explicit descriptions are more graphic than ever. There are also several psychologically damaged individuals who appear excellent candidates for chief suspect. The suspense builds up as first one and then another take over the mantle as likely murderer. As more and more bodies pile up, especially some very close to Harry Hole, it becomes very tense. Nesbo is particularly good at leading you in one direction then completely overturning your beliefs in the next sentence.

Despite the pressures on him, Harry is trying hard to remain sober and I found him an even more engaging character for this. I really enjoyed this book, even more than the last, as the overall impression was not as dark. But even with a more positive and uplifting ending, Nesbo stills puts in the knife at the end. Read this new novel and you will understand why people like me rave about this writer. Nesbo is a consummate writer and knows how to toy with his readers and delivers an adrenaline rush of a book. Roll on the next one.

Reviewed by: S.D.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Sara Blaedel - Blue Blood

"...the increase in tension as you head toward the conclusion is built up well..."

Synopsis:
Detective inspector Louise Rick is called in to investigate the case of a young woman brutally raped in her own home by a man she met online dating. It isn't long before a second attack takes place, this time with deadly consequences.

As the murder case unfolds, Rick discovers the website the killer is using to select and target his victims, and she begins to play a dangerous game, going under cover to talk to the killer online.

Review:
'Blue Blood' is the second book in Sara Blaedel's seven strong Louise Rick series, but the first to be released for the UK market. It's a solid police procedural, and a start to what has proven to be an enduring series in her native Denmark. It has a great main character, an interesting supporting cast and shows lots of potential for the development of them all.

Louise Rick is a hardworking detective, in a rocky relationship, whose struggle to juggle these two aspects of her life is one that many people will be able to relate to. It is also easy to relate to the victims, as Blaedel has taken great care to show the after effects of such attacks, as well as offering an interesting insight into the thought processes of the killer too.

The pace is set at just the right level, and the increase in tension as you head toward the conclusion is built up well so you are eager to find out what happens next. Overall it was a very quick and easy book to read, but don't mistake that for simplicity. There are plenty of false clues and red herrings in there to keep you guessing right the way through.

Reviewed by: J.P.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Roger A Price - By Their Rules

"Price has managed to balance the drudgery of police procedure with the tense excitement of the story just right..."

Synopsis:
A ruthless gangster is operating on the streets of London. Dealing in drug smuggling and people trafficking, his dirty empire is on the rise. However, an undercover police operation has him in their sights and they are ready to pounce. Unfortunately, they don't understand how dangerous he is and the stake out goes wrong resulting in a large number of officers slaughtered in a bloodbath.

Enter Burrows and Lee. Retired from the police force and MI5 respectively they are hired by the government to track down the implacable Cabilla and his gang and stop his evil regime at any cost. Burrows and Lee must draw on their experiences to catch him before they are caught in the crossfire. However, Burrows and Lee have one ace up their sleeve – they don't exist and they can play at their own rules.

Review:
A debut crime novel by a former detective inspector comes with a degree of high expectation. The facts need to be accurate yet not get in the way of telling the story. Price has managed to balance the drudgery of police procedure with the tense excitement of the story just right and the pace never lets up.

Gangsters can be difficult to get right and there was the worry that Cabilla could turn into a caricature and become a laughable stereotype but his ruthless actions stopped that from happening. He's pure evil and proud of it. I enjoyed the paranoia felt by members of Cabilla's gang. They may have weapons and attitude but they worried about their own mortality and who they could and couldn't trust. It was refreshing to see a doubtful gangster.

The violence wasn't glorified and Price managed to avoid straying into 'torture porn' territory. I would have liked to have seen more tension and worry within the police force at the slaughter of police officers in the line of duty. This would have raised the bar and given the thriller an extra edge of excitement and nervousness. The reason for Burrows' decision to come out of retirement was too convenient and we found out very little of Lee's background compared to her counterpart. If this novel is the first in a series then I hope Lee and Burrows will have equal billing and Lee gets a worthy backstory.

In places the dialogue was rather static but the action set pieces made up for it. Price has obviously seen a great deal of violence in his former career and, fingers crossed, we get to hear more from him in the future.

Reviewed by: M.W.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Jan Costin Wagner - Light in a Dark House

"This is an excellent book and due to the strength of this novel I will be seeking out Wagner’s previous work."

Synopsis:
Finnish detective Kimmo Joenta is living with a beautiful and mysterious young woman who tells nothing of her past and very little of her present, although Kimmo does know she is working as a prostitute. When she accompanies Kimmo to a works party an encounter with one of Kimmo's bosses leads her to disappear suddenly. Her sparse and reluctant communication with Kimmo after that leads him to view his current case with new eyes.

This case involves a woman in a coma in hospital after an apparent hit and run accident. No-one knows who she is. After months in a coma and following public requests for information from the police, she is murdered in her bed by a murderer who has wept copious tears at her bedside. This leads to a series of brutal murders which, although apparently unrelated, are traced back to an appalling event of rape and violence in the eighties.

Review:
This is the fourth book in a series featuring Finnish detective Kimmo Joenta. I came to this without reading the first three and I don't think that matters, as the back story slowly emerges as the book progresses. Wagner brilliantly sets out the plot and feeds you little snippets of information that gradually lead to the unveiling. The reveal of Kimmo's past history is done in the same way. The literary device of a diary written by one of those present at the time of the violent rape is used to drip feed little facts and is cleverly handled.

The way in which terrible trauma, physical and psychological, is dealt with by the characters is superbly done. Each one of the participants is terribly damaged and this leads to more crime. It is a cause for reflection and this is something that marks out this book as different. It has the plot, cleverly handled; it has the characters but it also has a way of pointing out the damage violence can do in society, particularly in this case violence towards women and its acceptance by society. This is an excellent book and I due to the strength of this novel I will be seeking out Wagner's previous work.

Reviewed by: S.D.

CrimeSquad Rating:

William McIlvanney - Laidlaw

"...these novels are as relevant today as they ever were. The quality of writing is breathtaking, and the sheer craft in the story-telling is magnificent."

Synopsis:
Bud Lawson's daughter Jennifer is found sexually assaulted and murdered in Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow. Detective Inspector Jack Laidlaw investigates. He knows the city's criminal heartland well, and knows what makes it tick – the seemingly respectable crime bosses, the villains, the crooks, the hard men, the wanabees and the hangers-on. But he finds that this investigation is drawing him even further into its sordid underbelly, and what he finds is not to his liking.

Review:
First published in 1977, this book started the genre that became Tartan Noir. It was the first of three Laidlaw investigations, and they inspired such writers as Ian Rankin, Denise Mina and Val McDermid. But the books' influences on crime fiction were not confined to Scotland – the world sat up and took notice.

I've read them all before, of course, but a re-issue was long overdue, and now Canongate has done just that. So how do they stand up to a re-reading after all this time? Judging by this one, they are as relevant today as they ever were. The quality of writing is breathtaking, and the sheer craft in the story-telling is magnificent.

William McIlvanney, like Laidlaw, knows Glasgow, though he is a native of Kilmarnock, a town 20 miles to the south of the city. Maybe that's why he knows it – he has come to the city fresh, and has no preconceptions. The murderer is almost irrelevant in 'Laidlaw', and we know who he is from the start. There is no mystery to be solved as such. It's Laidlaw's unorthodox ways – his disregard for authority, his compassion and his thought processes - that make the story unpredictable and compelling. Plus the fact that he has to get to the murderer before other people do – other people who want to wreak their own vengeance.

The flawed policeman is a cliché nowadays. Jack is the original flawed policeman, though he is no cliché. He has a broken marriage behind him; he has personal problems; and his unorthodox methods cause hackles to rise among his superior officers.

The book is a superb combination of a rattling good story and a literary style that refuses to compromise. I'll be reviewing the other two Laidlaw books at a later date, and I can't wait to read them again.

Reviewed by: J.G.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Sheila Radley - Blood on the Happy Highway

"The solution is satisfying and looking back you can see the clues were there to see."

Synopsis:
Angela Arrowsmith is a woman who had nothing and since marrying her much younger husband, has quite a lot more than she did. But Angela is one of those people who is always on the lookout for more! She crudely tries to manipulate people like her brother-in-law, Ross Arrowsmith, the local electronics entrepreneur to hand over money to her for hair-brained schemes that will never work. And because of her weak husband, Angela finds the need to seek the attentions of strong men in her bed.

One Saturday morning the postman finds Angela's Siamese cat decapitated and lying on the front doorstep to her home, the threat 'Your Turn Next' spray-painted on her front door. Who could want to threaten Angela? Is it someone from her dodgy past? A lover who is not averse to issuing threats or is it someone closer to home who has had enough of her philandering? Quantrill is feeling the pressure after delivering no results on a three week old murder of a headless woman, checks out the call in the distant hope that a headless cat may have some bearing on his case. When it appears not, Quantrill leaves in bad humour at having his time wasted, but it is less than a week later when death comes to visit the occupants of the house named 'Tenerife'.

Review:
This is the fourth in the Chief Inspector Douglas Quantrill series and it is a very intriguing mystery, indeed. Although from the beginning we hear about the case of the headless woman dumped on a layby of the A135, Radley concentrates more on the family dynamics of the Arrowsmith family. Here, Radley unfolds her story at a leisurely pace. You can tell that her main interest is in her characters and what makes them 'tick'. Although we are taken through the different stages of the investigation, Radley does not alter her pace and we are also shown the different attitudes of the different officers involved in the 'A135 case' as it has become locally known.

Quantrill has a new Sergeant in the form of Hilary Lloyd. He is not happy that his new recruit is a woman but is his deference more to do with his fear of falling for her charms than being a misogynist? To the chagrin of Quantrill, his old subordinate, Insp. Martin Tait turns up to head the headless woman case when another body is found in the same location. Radley obviously loved Norfolk and the lay of the land and makes it just as much a part of the book as the people who are caught up in the drama. The solution is satisfying and looking back you can see the clues were there to see. For my money I would call Radley a novelist first and foremost who enjoyed structuring her characters around a crime. Sublime.

Reviewed by: C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Ella Durham - Ebony Blood

"...‘Ebony Blood’ was certainly a book that entertained me and stimulated my imagination..."

Synopsis:
Greg and Tony Williams are brothers. Greg is successful and has all the trappings of a successful man, although his marriage is going through a rocky patch. Tony is the younger brother who struggles through life, turning to Greg for financial bail-outs and resenting his brother's life style. In an attempt to improve their rather unhappy relationship the brothers go off on a fishing trip to Selkirk, in the Scottish borders. It does not get off to a good start when they find that there has been a murder recently and the police are looking for the chief suspect.

Tony is behaving in a very strange way, culminating in his disappearance. It appears that Tony is no stranger to the area and has been dabbling in some very dodgy deals. As Greg uncovers more of the secrets of Tony and his colleagues he himself is drawn into danger. Torn by his love for his brother, guilt at achieving a more successful life and awareness of what this attachment has done to his relationship with his wife and child, Greg struggles through his own feelings and finally achieves some sort of resolution.

Review:
'Ebony Blood' has a clever plot and interesting characters. Detailed descriptions of the countryside build up tension and lend an atmospheric background to the proceedings. My final test of a good book is whether I want to pick up wherever I left off. This book certainly did that and I was anxious to find out what happened with Tony and Greg.

Having said that there were points in the narrative that I found a little awkward and I particularly felt uneasy at the intimate scenes that did not seem to fit in with the rest of the story. I felt that these parts inhibited the main thrust of the story. However, saying that, 'Ebony Blood' was certainly a book that entertained me and stimulated my imagination and I would be inclined to read this author again. All in all, an enjoyable book.

Reviewed by: S.D.

CrimeSquad Rating:

R.T. Raichev - The Riddle of Sphinx Island

"...a grand whodunnit in the great tradition of English crime writing..."

Synopsis:
It is crime writer Antonia Darcy and her husband Major Hugh Payne's tenth wedding anniversary. They are reluctant to take up the invitation of Lady Grylls, Major Payne's aunt, to holiday on Sphinx Island, off the Devon Coast, as an anniversary present. They suspect that their reputation as amateur crime-solvers has gone before them, and that they will become embroiled in yet another Murder Mystery Weekend. They are further put off by the fact that one of the other guests will be Romaine Garrison-Gore, also a crime writer. However, they decide to go, with unexpected results.

Review:
The traditional crime yarn about a murder taking place among an isolated group of people is alive and well in this book. However, it is set in the present day, while still giving a nod to the classic detective novel of the 1920s and 1930s, when the upper-middle classes routinely bumped each other off. Even the chapter headings recall great novels and films of yesteryear, from 'Confessions of a Justified Sinner' to 'Enter a Murderer', 'Invasion of the Bodysnatchers', 'Sparkling Cyanide' and 'The Body in the Library'.

Sphinx Island is cut off from the mainland by a storm, the telephone wires are down, and there is no mobile network. A group of disparate people are thrown together, and the husband and wife detectives are unsure about what is taking place around them. Is it murder? Is it a game? We meet Lady Grylls, Major Payne's aunt. We meet a nasty American businessman, Oswald Ramskritt (who wants to buy the island), and his entourage of downtrodden females. We meet his German doctor, Doctor Klein, as well as Romaine Garrison-Gore, a crime writer whose popularity is on the wane. Also on the island are Sybil de Coverley, who owns it, and her brother John.

This is the eighth Darcy and Payne novel, and the plot weaves in and out as incidents take place, and nothing is ever as it seems. The writing is dense, and on several pages the viewpoint flits between two or three people, which on occasion may confuse the reader. All in all this is a grand whodunnit in the great tradition of English crime writing, by someone who, surprisingly enough, grew up in Bulgaria.

Reviewed by: J.G.

CrimeSquad Rating:

Chris Kuzneski - The Einstein Pursuit

"...the basic plotting was good enough to keep me reading..."

Synopsis:
A lab destroyed. An explosion in Stockholm decimates a secret laboratory killing an elite collection of scientists. Evidence suggests the blast was designed to eliminate any trace of the scientist's research. Interpol director Nick Dial has to uncover the truth about the lab and the murderous attack.

A scientist on the run. When Dr Mattias Sahlberg learns of the incident he realises his own life is at risk. Terrified he turns to the only men he knows he can trust: ex Special Forces operatives, Johnathon Payne and David Jones. Together they have to guard Sahlberg from the men who want him dead.

A miraculous discovery. As Sahlber'g past and Dial's case intertwine, Payne and Jones uncover hidden truths and secret agendas which involve some of the world's most eminent minds.

Review:
I have been a fan of Kuzneski for many years – long before joining Crimesquad.com – and have enjoyed all his previous books immensely. There are few writers writing today who can pen fast paced action novels which have his Kuzneski's page turning intensity. Sadly 'The Einstein Pursuit' is not a worthy addition to his oeuvre.

His characters, plotting and action scenes are all well enough put together for a page turner, but 'The Einstein Pursuit' is a slower, more detective style novel which has much less of Kuzneski's trademark action sequences than usual. This less urgent style exposes the flaws in the author's skillset. The most glaring, being a clumsiness with prose which is more akin to a debut author rather than a seasoned professional. I normally hate to make comparisons, but in the hands of a Matt Hilton, a Tom Cain or a Zoe Sharp, 'The Einstein Pursuit' would have been a much more rounded novel.

On the positive side, the basic plotting was good enough to keep me reading and my long association with Payne and Jones is always a pleasure to rekindle. I would urge Kuzneski to concentrate on either his usual pace driven fare or to work that bit harder to eradicate the clumsiness from his writing. Fingers crossed his next novel sees him return to his previously high standards.

Reviewed by: G.S.

CrimeSquad Rating: