Exodus ’95, Kfir Luzzatto

Exodus ’95, Kfir Luzzatto

Exodus ’95

Exodus ’95 follows the entrepreneur Dan Ze’evi and a woman known as Claire Williams on the treasure hunt of a millennium; one fraught with factions desperate to get their hands on the final prize and either exalt it or destroy it. Between them, Dan and Claire hold all the pieces of the puzzle. Whether or not they’ll survive long enough to attempt to put them together is a whole other question; one which everyone from Egyptian nationalists to Russian industrialists are eager to test.

Kfir Luzzatto’s novel will delight thriller fans. The settings are brought alive by little details and evocative description, forming an engrossing backdrop for the plot, and the adventure, while extraordinary, is well-paced and plausible. I did find that the Mossad involvement acted as something of a Hail Mary save – they swoop in, pull our protagonists out of trouble, and then really fade out of the story. As one of the premier global intelligence agencies, I would’ve frankly expected them to be much harder to shake, once they had the scent of the case. Aside from that, I found this read to be truly excellent – unique, peopled with a strong cast of characters, and technically excellent, which I deeply appreciate. Definitely a highly recommended read.

The Azrael Initiative, K Hanson

The Azrael Initiative, K Hanson

The Azrael Initiative (Kayla Falk Series Book 1)

Kayla Falk is an engineering student, whose biggest concern is her graduation project. Unlike most students, she even has a guaranteed job waiting for her at graduation: working for her best friend’s dad. Her plans are looking good, but sometimes the sayings about best-laid plans love to prove themselves, and an attack on her university throws Kayla, and her best friend Olivia, into the middle of something neither of them had ever considered. When two teens beat off a terrorist cell, it’s not only the news outlets that take notice…

The Azrael Initiative is a strong contender in the YA adventure field, picking two teens out of utterly normal lives and catapulting them into extraordinary circumstances. I found that the storyline was well-constructed, with enough breadcrumbs leading to the twist to make it plausible, but not enough to be a dead giveaway. However (without dropping a ton of spoilers) there were some elements that made suspending my disbelief tricky as I read, not least that neither of our two heroines apparently asked any more questions than ‘where do I sign?’ before involving themselves once the pivotal tragedy had struck. The convenient villain’s diary that gives away the whole background was another. On the whole, though, this was an entertaining, well-paced read, and the absence of useless females was a refreshing change.

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Watching You, J A Schneider

Watching You, J A Schneider

Watching You, J. A. Schneider

A dead girl from a rich family, a menacing text message, and a taunt tacked to the still-warm corpse with a hatpin. With an ever-expanding list of suspects and very little hard evidence, Detective Kerri Blasco and her partner are front and centre in the hunt for a killer, under the unforgiving glare of both a media spotlight and their superiors. With the case rousing spectres from Kerri’s past, the stress is beginning to tell, and it’s open to debate if the case will crack first – or if Kerri will.

Watching You is a gritty, fast-paced sequel in the Kerri Blasco detective series, for the first time with a plot focussing on Detective Blasco herself. J. A. Schneider’s outstanding characters and trademark twisty plotting are a combination guaranteed to pull you into the story from the first page; trying to figure out whodunnit will keep you there. This series offers an outstanding combination of mystery, psychology, and realism, and the third in the series is no exception. The desperation of the case permeates the writing, dragging you into the characters’ desperate race against time to find and stop a killer, and the character development is stellar from the protagonists right through to the smallest roles. This is a book that any readers of crime mysteries are guaranteed to fall in love with.

The Girl at the Bar, Nicholas Nash

The Girl at the Bar, Nicholas Nash

The Girl at the Bar

Rebecca is a high-flying cancer research scientist, one of the most sought-after minds in the field. Ragnar is a down-on-his-luck ex-trader battling bipolar disorder, hanging out in bars in between job searches. When Rebecca goes missing shortly after their one-night stand, Ragnar becomes a person of interest overnight – and determined to find Rebecca, even if it gets him arrested. However, when the body count starts growing and the press gets involved, the stakes only get higher…

The Girl at the Bar is a police thriller, where the evidence is deceptive at best and the origins of the crime are buried and forgotten in decades-old events. The plot is plausible and twisty, and although those who like to try and follow the breadcrumbs of evidence through the plot and figure out the criminal themselves are going to find slim pickings, the final revelation is nicely handled. The pacing is also largely good, and the characters are refreshingly original, with perfectly imperfect motivations. The things keeping this book from a higher rating were mostly technical; there are editing errors apparent throughout, and a critique to polish some occasional awkwardnesses out of the delivery would have made this story a top-rank read. Definitely something that crime fiction fans will enjoy.

Bad Analysis, Colin Knight

Bad Analysis, Colin Knight

Bad Analysis

Craig Wilson works for Canadian Intelligence, a loner whose work is too good to allow him to be retired while his frequently divergent opinions make him unpopular with his bosses. However, when the brewing of a new terror crisis in the slums of Europe sends vibrations through the webs of the international intelligence community, Wilson’s instincts are triggered. The death of an old friend in British Intelligence, and an uncharacteristically cryptic message left behind him only strengthen Wilson’s feeling that there’s something very far amiss – but will he be able to unravel it in time to avert a tragedy?

Bad Analysis is an excellently-paced spy thriller, hitting all the right notes of intrigue, duplicity, and desperation. The protagonist is sufficiently flawed to be credible, and the case is convincingly built on a series of tiny details, luck, and hunches. The conflict between the politic aspirations of Wilson’s bosses and the very real danger posed by their myopia is an especially nice touch. Unfortunately, the stellar plotting and story of this book was badly undermined by the technical aspects of the writing, especially in the punctuation. This is the kind of book that would easily hit five stars if not for the fact I had to stop on multiple occasions to figure out where the comma should have gone, and what the most likely meaning of the phrase had been intended to be.

The Last Prophet, Michael J Hallisey

The Last Prophet, Michael J Hallisey

The Last Prophet

Riley McKee is a brilliant trauma surgeon, one of those rare people able to connect the dots and save a life while others are still fumbling for a diagnosis. With her best friend and fellow surgeon, Genevieve Neugold, she shares an obsession for riddles and puzzles, and a compulsion to save lives. However, when Riley’s determination to solve a centuries-old mystery gets her killed, Genevieve is drawn into Riley’s last and greatest puzzle – the secret of healing the sick and bringing the dead back to life.

Michael J. Hallisey’s The Last Prophet is a twisty story of murder, crime, and hidden connections, from Riley’s CIA brother to the secrets hidden in the lost paintings of Caravaggio, carving a path across time and space from a modern trauma wing in America to one of the last hidden bastions of the ancient Knights Templar. Think Indiana Jones meets the Da Vinci Code. The only thing standing between this book and a much higher rating was strictly technical; the author’s detailed research and depth of knowledge occasionally impacted the pacing of the story, and the punctuation was odd to the point where it was frequently difficult to figure out if someone was talking or not, and if so, who. It’s a shame, because with a solid edit under its belt, this book would be a top-flight read. As it is, definitely worthwhile, but there are issues that impact the read and will sometimes yank the reader out of the story.