Book Reviews

Closer Than You Think by Lee Maguire – A Review

As far as I’m aware, I don’t think I’ve ever read a published debut novel. I mean, being an editor and all, I’ve come across my fair share of first novels, but a published debut just isn’t something I come across very often. I usually stick by the well-known authors, the well-known type with a history of popular reads, so this was a little bit out of my comfort zone. However, the promise of an exciting crime drama with a psychological crime thriller undertone swayed me, and I’m glad it did.

Closer Than You Think is the first novel in a developing crime series featuring Doctor Bryce Davidson, a psychologist at a ‘Children’s Agency’. When a strange set of threatening messages arise, it’s up to Davidson to use his wits, intuition and psychological expertise to find the culprit. But with relationship drama getting heavier, work getting tougher and threats getting more and more terrifying by the day, can he catch them in the act before it’s too late?

So, what’s the verdict? Well, as far as debut novels go, Lee Maguire’s Closer Than You Think was surprisingly good. With drama on every page, a frightening stalker and a search for answers, I just couldn’t put the damn book down! For a first-time author, Maguire does a brilliant job at keeping descriptions short and drama central, making it a breeze to read – the perfect ‘air-port read’, so to speak.

That isn’t to say this book doesn’t have it’s flaws, of course. With quite a few noticeable spelling errors, clunky dialogue that seemed a little too formal for normal human conversation and a main character who’s just that little bit too perfect, there’s a lot for Maguire to improve on. The first few chapters were chocked full of strange exposition and description that really could’ve been cut out. But the more I read, the more I found the writing flowed. If it found it’s rhythm earlier on, it could’ve been an excellent read, but from an author with no public writing-style developed and a little experience in the published world of books, I have to give Maguire the benefit of the doubt here. It takes a lot to be a good writer and, as many people say, a first novel is never going to be a great novel. Luckily for Maguire, his ability to keep intrigue saved the day.

Sure, there are going to be people who tear apart this book, but for a debut author and a small publishing team, I have to say, it’s a good start. It did keep me on edge, which is everything in a crime-thriller, and (although it dragged on a bit at the start) its brief, punchy style of writing kept me glued to each page. With a few more improvements, some guidance and a tad more experience, Maguire really could have what it takes to pull off a successful crime series. 

Grab your copy of Closer Than You Think now!:
http://geni.us/closerthanyouthinkm

 

Follow Lee Maguire at:
https://www.facebook.com/Dr-Bryce-Davison-Thriller-Series-1497309670567574/

Find TCK Publishing at their site:
https://www.tckpublishing.com/

TCK Publishing’s Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/tckpublishing/

TCK Publishing’s Twitter:
https://twitter.com/TCKPublishing

 

Book Reviews

The Passage by Justin Cronin – A review

I’ve got to admit, I never really planned on picking this book up, but the moment I set eyes on it, I knew I had to read it. With its silver, almost holographic cover design, I couldn’t not pick it up. It wasn’t until I held the book in my hand and felt the weight of its epic 963 pages that I realised just how much of a committment I was getting myself into.

Justin Cronin’s The Passage is an epic sci-fi novel, centring around a devastating plague that begins to take over humanity, turning people into violent, vampire-zombie hybrids with a taste for – you guessed it – blood. Throw in an odd young child with an unknown ‘power’ and a ragtag group of youth with a taste for answers, justice and adventure, and you’ve got yourself a prime sci-fi read. But just how readable is Cronin’s novel?

Well, in all honesty, I have to say, I expected more from this book. The first few hundred pages were incredibly captivating. With a cast of intriguing personalities, each one with a well fleshed-out background, motive and voice. The plot was perfectly comprehendible – although a little wild, but nothing out of the ordinary for a sci-fi epic – and Cronin’s writing was the perfect cross between fast-paced, simple and descriptive.

However, as the book continued, I found myself getting more and more bored with the story. Sure, it had some interesting plot points and settings, but overall I found that the major let-down was the characters. As much as I read on, the less I began to care for each of the characters laid out before me. Although there was the occasional attempt to flesh-out characters, there just wasn’t enough characterisation to pull me in. No matter who the characters were or what was happening, every character seemed to have the same voice, speaking the same tone and using the same words (including a particularly frustrating over-use of the word ‘flyers’ as an expletive). In a novel that clearly outlines its central characters, having different language and personality traits was something that should’ve been vital, but there just didn’t appear to be any attempt at setting the characters appart in any means but their personal interests.

Plot, too, became jumbled the more I read on. Characters were introduced, developed, and then completely disregarded in later chapters. Action scenes were incredibly sudden in comparison to the resting phases of the novel, comprising of a series of long, relatively mundane descriptions, which could easily have been cut from the novel without affecting the story. Not to mention, there was a strange amount of cuts between letters, third-person narrations and military reports. In the end, I found it difficult to tell which character was which, what they were meant to be doing and what the purposes of each of the plot points were.

So, was it worth the read? Well, for me, the novel taught me a very valuable lesson: don’t judge a book by its cover. Sure, if you’re into science fiction and post-apocalyptic drama, I wouldn’t be one to stop you. The premise is interesting and it did drag me along long enough for me to finish the novel. However, if you’re after something with a little more depth and characterisation, I’d probably recommend Stephen King’s similar novel The Stand instead.

Book Reviews, Uncategorized

‘The Dry’ by Jane Harper – A Review

I’m going to be honest about this one: I never really wanted to read this book. Marketed as more of a piece about the Australian landscape than a book with a story line, I was always hesitant to read it. Sure, I find Australia interesting (I do live in Australia, after all)… but a book that’s main theme focuses around how beautiful the Australian outback is? Yeah, not so much.

But a few months ago my mother told me she’d booked tickets to see Miss Harper in person promoting her newest novel The Lost Man, and I knew I’d have to read it. I mean, you can’t just go to an author’s book release without reading any of the books they’ve written, right? With a sigh of defeat, I opened the first page and let me just say… Jane Harper truly surprised me.

IMG_6610

The Plot: When a young couple and their son are found dead on their property in the rural Australian town of Kiewarra, it’s originally passed off as a murder-suicide. However, former Kiewarra inhabitant and police investigator Aaron Falk begins to suspect there’s more than meets the eye to this tragic case.

Verdict: Jane Harper’s debut novel The Dry is nothing short of magnificent. With it’s fast-paced narration, it’s beautiful characterisation and actively intriguing storyline, it’s nearly impossible to put down.
From the very first chapter to the very last, Harper’s experience with writing and editing process (working previously as a journalist) shines through. With short and snappy narration and realistic dialogue – cutting out that long-winded description a lot of debut authors fall into the trap of writing – The Dry was nothing short of a breeze to read.
Sure, this book isn’t exactly the ‘game changer’ of all crime novels. It’s probably not going to go down as the ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ of our generation and it certainly does have its faults (especially in terms of a particular typography and style choice, which is quickly changed for the rest of Harper’s series) but it’s a fun, solid and creative crime novel set in a time where unique and readable crime novels can be few and far between.

Overall, yeah, Jane Harper’s The Dry was a great read! For anyone who’s a fan of a good crime story, pick it up. Trust me, you won’t regret it!

Purchase Harper’s novel here: https://www.panmacmillan.com.au/9781925481372/

Or visit Jane Harper’s site at: http://janeharper.com.au/Books/The-Dry