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Mortal Showdown, Nik Krasno

Mortal Showdown, Nik Krasno

Mortal Showdown

Mortal Showdown follows the continuing story of Ukrainian politician and businessman Mikhail Leonidovich Vorotavich, newly awakened from a bullet-induced coma and rapidly becoming aware that a Russian-backed sniper was only the start of his problems. With his brother in Russian hands as a hostage for his cooperation, his lines of information inextricably tangled by a month of his being out of touch, and his security force stretched thin, Mikhail is facing a series of unpleasant choices, any or all of which could mean his head. Entangled in intrigue stretching from the Kremlin to the Caymans to Kazakhstan, Mikhail’s choice of priorities is narrowing down to one: survival, personal and financial.

Nik Krasno’s gritty, action-packed and intrigue-fuelled story-telling makes for a great read, set with characters you’ll love to hate. Mortal Showdown offers confrontations where you can smell the stale vodka and cigarette smoke, view the international subterfuge, and experience the touch of the sticky fingers of the international financial markets, punctuated by drugs, women, and private jets. The contrast between the public, optimistic hopes of the Ukrainian people and the corruption-laced negotiations happening behind the scenes leaves a pithy comment on the realities of modern society, and whether Kazakh flame-eaters, Thai orgies, or black ops in darkened alleys is your thing, there’s a little something for every thriller reader in this novel.

Her Last Breath, J. A. Schneider

Her Last Breath, J. A. Schneider

Her Last Breath: Detective Kerri Blasco Book 2

Waking up with amnesia next to a dead body is enough to panic anyone. For Mari Gill, suffering from extreme asthma, the shock was nearly enough to kill her too. Injured, arrested, and unable to remember a single thing about the previous night, Mari turns to her ex-husband, a prominent defence lawyer, for help, but her case doesn’t look great. With only one NYPD detective willing to look deeper into the facts of the case, Mari’s just lucky that that one detective is Kerri Blasco: intuitive, driven, and with a reputation for cracking the uncrackable when it comes to cases.

Her Last Breath is another twisty, intelligent mystery thriller from author J. A. Schneider, where the evidence coils and turns like an eel on a hook, and the author’s decision to keep the story’s point of view tight on Mari keeps the reader guessing all the way. Mari goes from trauma to paranoia and back again, her instincts pushing her towards uncovering the blocked memories that could make or break the case, even as she doubts her senses, her memory, and who she can trust. It’s a rare pleasure to come across a mystery that doesn’t give itself away in the first few chapters, and J. A. Schneider’s books have a consistent winning streak on that score. I highly recommend this author – her plots go from strength to strength.

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Cheaters, Peter A Stankovic

Cheaters, Peter A Stankovic

Cheaters

In Cheaters: A Markus Doppler Thriller, a serial killer is running loose in Sydney. A string of women have been turning up dead, missing one front tooth, and with no other real common denominator aside from their gender. The Sydney police call on Markus Doppler, a recently-retired detective, to come in and lead the team on the case. Markus, with a mounting body count and little by way of leads, is trying to balance catching a killer with a relationship with the first woman he’s had serious feelings for since his divorce, met via the Cheaters website – a site advertised as a way for people looking for no-strings sex to meet.

This book is a well-laid out mystery story, constructed to keep the reader guessing right through to the grand reveal and playing on the ongoing theme of websites set up for married couples to experiment beyond their marriage. I found that the sheer number of secondary characters was overwhelming in the beginning, meaning that for me the story only really found a unifying factor about a tenth of the way in, and the constant point-of-view shifts became confusing in sections. However, Peter A. Stankovic does manage to pull all these disparate threads together for the finale, and the locations and characters are solidly convincing. Certainly worth reading for mystery readers who don’t like all the answers handed to them on a plate.

Cheaters cover

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Trojan: Hollow Moon of Jupiter, Brian Dingle

Trojan: Hollow Moon of Jupiter, Brian Dingle

Trojan: Hollow Moon of Jupiter (Trojan Series Book 1)

Trojan: Hollow Moon of Jupiter follows chronologically from Trojan: Nefra Contact. Humanity has colonised Trojan to ensure that the Nefra can never use it as a beach head to invade Earth. Despite the social unease, and the myriad incorrect theories flying about the Nefra, there are a number of Nefra living among the colonists, mostly working in the armed forces and law enforcement. However, something is mysteriously killing street people, a fact that doesn’t attract much attention until one of the victims doesn’t end up dead – and turns out to be the brother of one of Trojan’s most notorious crime bosses.

Brian Dingle’s characters form the strong point of this book, from the seminarian-turned-crook to the sunny-natured Nefra policewoman who helps to break the string of murders, and the world-building is detailed and convincing. The main points of philosophy are told, rather than shown, which is a shame as they’re good points, but the overall story will gain the reader’s sympathy despite that, with good action scenes and dialogue. The science behind Trojan is also refreshingly well integrated into the plot, placing the story firmly as a science-fiction crime thriller, rather than a crime thriller where the characters happen to have spaceships rather than taxis. I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys sci-fi.