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Norma Miles

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5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 18-09-18

Grasshoppers

Thirty years ago, when Sean was just seven, his father just left, leaving him, his mother and his little sister Diane. He never came back. No one ever said why. Although he grew close to the uncle who helped raise him despite his mother's refusal to talk to him, Sean continued to nurse the hurt of his leaving, always wondered what it was he'd done to drive his father away. It was a year after his uncle Zed died that the family received the message: his father had been found. Dead. Murdered, and Sean reluctantly agreed to travel to Carolina to bring back his body. Seems his dad was a thief - he'd been found with a bag full of money - but no one had reported a robbery, no one had seen or heard anything.

This superbly structured novel follows Sean as events finally push him into investigating the death of the man he'd so often thought he'd like to have killed himself. In many ways, this is a thriller in slow motion, not because the action isn't fast paced -it is - but because the focus is on Sean himself, his feelings, his reactions, and not directly on a search for the killer or even for the reason for his father's death. Sean is a simple man in many ways, but thoughtful, quick to anger and not one who can be pushed around. And he doesn't like what he finds.

Steven Cooper is the perfect narrator for this book, his steady voiced reading capturing Sean's personality and enhancing the story. He paces it well, with good modulation, and maintains a slow burn throughout. He also gives individual voice to the other protagonists. A fine performance and partnership of author and reader.

My thanks to the rights holder of Broken Slate who, at my request, freely gifted me with a complimentary copy, via Audiobook Boom. Although third in the Sean Coleman Thriller series, this is a book which is completely stand alone. Perhaps not a book for someone who's idea of a thriller is non stop shoot outs and car chases, but for anyone who likes really good insightful characterisation with a mystery included, too, then this book is definitely recommended. I loved it.

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4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 18-09-18

Am I back? Am I alive? Again?

Iris and D.J. are half sisters. One is a ghost hunter, the other a medium. Mitchell is an U.F.O. chaser. Iris' dad always warned her against bothering with the idea of aliens, but he'd left their mother years ago to join some top secret organisation, and there was something very appealing about Mitchell. D.J's mother died a couple of years ago but keeps coming back to talk at her daughter. When a very strange poltergeist is haunting the home of Iris' latest client and crop circles are seen actually being formed in a farmer's field, the two teams of U.F.O. and ghost hunters find themselves drawn together, pulled into a strange and frantic attempt to save the world. But from who, and how, and what can they trust? Not even their own experiences, it seems.

Well.(deep breath),this book blends together virtually everything: ghostly apparitions and artefacts, flying toiletry items, psychic experiences, family dynamics and responsibility, Native American folklore, spaceships and various varieties of alien, time travel and weird in-space battles, human evolution, government consipracies, self doubt, suspicions and romance. It all gets thrown into the mixing pot in this remarkably wide ranging, sophisticated science fiction story. Yet at times it also reads like something out of the Famous Five. A strange mix.

Similarly, narrator Ann Simmons has a pleasant sounding voice, with good intonation and adherence to text. She also gives good individual voicing to the characters. Yet her performance, though good, seemed to become too monotone, leaving this reader struggling to stay awzke. Perhaps there was something mesmeric in the book? Very strange.

The whole leaves this reader conflicted: some great ideas and well executed visual sections yet with characters who seem, for all their angst and introspection, rather foolish and two dimensional. I was fortunate in being freely gifted a complimentary copy of Coalescence, at my request, by the rights holder, via Audiobook Boom. Thank you - it was certainly ambitious and different. Would I recommend it? Possibly to someone obsessed with U.F.Os and government's determination to hide anything unexplained from the public. It is good fun, after all.

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5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 16-09-18

Of all the crackpot schemes...

Delicious in every way, this triple book of dirty deeds is gloriously written by Richard Storry, a visual and gastric delight providing a colourful background to an amusing story of thefts and double dealing. There is even a recipe for Wilhelm's delectable chocolate Tiffin
The first three titles are included:
- A Looming of Vultures
- A Nest of Vipers
- A Shroud of Darkness.
Set amongst the glitterati of Ruritania, it is so atmospheric it is almost possible to hear the medals clink and jowls tremble. The combining of of the pomposity of the high officials and the titled with humour, as well as the background horror as cloaked figures meet by lantern light to plot murder and mayhem is simply delicious.

If the story alone were not delicious enough, it is read by the superb Jake Urry, whose voice can be both warmly inclusive and simultaneously chilling. He is pace perfect, charismatic, and his portrayal of the various protagonists from the military men to the unhappy Willie are always individually suited. He lifts the story to even greater heights ( or should that be depths?). A superb melding of story and narrator.

A great book to cause both creepy tingles and smiles. My thanks to the rights holder for freely gifting me a complimentary copy, at my request, via Audiobook Boom.- just peep in, eavesdrop the nefarious intrigues - and enjoy.

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4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 13-09-18

The longer I live, the more secrets I keep.

When her husband died, Darcy had moved back home to live with her mother and enjoy rest, peace and time to recover. Well, that didn't work. Instead, she was not only thrown into emotional confusion rediscovering feelings for the Marshall, her boyfriend before being romance by, and marrying, her much loved husband, but also murders and family secrets from the past have kept both her and her mother Flora involved in danger and discovery. Now, at last, they have moved into their newly built house outside of town, looking forward to countryside tranquility and the house warming party for their many friends and family. But it seems that even the weather is against them as a storm arrives with heavy rain which seems to go on for ever. And during the storm, someone knocks on their door. A stranger, but one who seems to know Flora by name and leaves just as suddenly as he arrived without giving his name. Next morning, the man's body is discovered outside the remains of a burning derelict building. Who is he? Who killed him? And it seems that, yet again, the son of Flora's best friend, Pat Harris, might well be involved.
This books in this series by Blanche Day Marcos are filled with interesting adventure and mystery and this one additionally continues with the background discoveries of the family past which combine to make an atmospheric story. But again, it is the delightful interaction between mother and daughter together with Darcy's internal consideration of all that is happening (the book is written from Darcy's perspective) which bind it together in a remarkably plausible way.

Good story, great characters and an excellent narrator: Michelle Babb further gives life to all of the protagonists and, in particular, Darcy and Flora. Her reading is a pleasure to hear and her voicings for the many protagonists is a good interpretation of each as well as being individually different.

These gentle thrillers still have bite even without fast, page turning action. They are gripping because the people are real, the stories well written and there is so much happening in that small town, from a long ago love, to murder, arson and a young woman trying to survive being thrown out by her father. And much more.
A good read.

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5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 13-09-18

A poisoned Easter egg.

The Sigma Surrogate is a prequel to the When Tomorrow Calls trilogy, set in South Africa in 2021. In it, we the readers meet some of the characters who will later appear but is a very satisfying story in it's own right. With Earth becoming increasingly dangerous with plague, drought, crime and suicide rampant, the human fertility rate has also crashed with an estimated of fewer than 1% of the population now fertile. Young women capable of childbearing are sought after and highly respected, with a pleasant, luxurious life at the Surrogate Citidel. So why would anyone seek to kill Joni, the very pregnant girl living there in utmost security? K.K., a journalist, gets news of the story and, with the help of photographer, Kirsten, Flower Girl, a bioengineer,, and a super hacker met on the Darkweb named Marko, she intends to write the story of the year.

Set in a slightly futuristic edgy world, similar but very different from our own, J.T.Lawrence paints in technicolour a fast actioned mystery thriller with very memorable characters, surprising twists and a couple of sensual sex scenes. It sparkles in description of a highly unusual nature. Jean Ann Douglas narrated, and does so with warm clarity and panache, further giving life to the protagonists with her seperate voicings for each at the same time as giving the ongoing text full understanding and emotion. An excellent performance, although this reader found the experience further improved by setting the playback speed to 1.25.

This book will be an obvious must read for anyone who has already completed the When Tomorrow Calls trilogy, but is also highly recommended for anyone enjoying character led s.f., Tecno and conspiracy thrillers or any slightly unusual crime mysteries. Well written, very easy and pleasurable to read, with excellent narration -and a definite surprise ending. Get it now and decide for yourself.

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4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-09-18

If I got eaten by a zombie in the next 30 seconds.

Kate is a runner, both physically - she has taken part in numerous ultras (races longer than a marathon) in the past but not since the death of her husband - and psychologically, blaming herself for being weak, especially for not being there to prevent Kyle's death and for falling apart afterwards.
Her only son, Carter, is 200 miles away at college and Kate is running with her best friend and racing partner when several texts and unanswered calls come from Carter asking her to call him urgently. An outbreak of some kind was causing riots, people were dying and the authorities had instituted what was, in effect marshal law in the areas and he and his fellow students were confined to their rooms. Kate and her friend Frederico have already seen why - the zombie apocalypse had begun!
She determines that she must be with her son so, denied the usual plane, train or automobile means of travel, she and Frederico decide simply to go by foot, to run.

Written in the first person, this was a fascinating story from Jane's perspective: her internal past life and emotions unfolding at the same time as the couple face the hardship of the journey as they sought to avoid both live and undead alike who would seem to prevent them reaching their destination. The privations endured both on this journey and in recollection of past ultra races is fascinating and painful, so much revealed about the stamina and fortitude required makes this a real gem. In so many ways shocking and well delivered, the one expectation seemed to fail was the zombie aspect itself - blind and too interested in feeding on their victims, for this reader at least, the threat they posed after the initial shock appearance seemed to make them less of a threat than most. Yet within hours they seemed to have been everywhere, even in unexpected locations.

The narration by Gwendolyn Druyor was good, emotionally charged and with seperate voicings for the individual protagonists, though that used for the 20 years old son made him sound far too young. As the voice of Kate, however, Ms.Druyor was superb. The overall reading pace also seemed a tad slow but this was easily resolved by increasing playback speed to 1.25.
I had requested Undead Ultra from the rights holder, via Audiobook Boom, and was very fortunate in being freely gifted a complimentary copy. Thank you. It was an unusual and informative book, immersive with excellent character construction, .making both Kate and her friend Frederico seem very real, increasingly so as the book moves towards the dramatic conclusion. Definitely worth reading by fans of dystopian and horror genres, zombie zealots, and anyone just interested in learning more about running an ultra.

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5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-09-18

Not everything fits into charts.

BEI Agent Dale Conley is assigned unusual cases with an historic theme. Always previously working with an FBI agent, this time he finds himself reluctantly partnered by a civilian, a psychologist who specialises in serial killings. From the start, their relationship is an uncomfortable one: she has no training, has never handled a gun or even seen a dead body before the one she views with him - and this is the person who is supposed to supply his back up. Plus the case is a nasty one: two murders already, both gruesome knife killings, of men known for their avowed atheistic views, yet both have exhibited Christian connections with their deaths. There is obviously a connection but what? And why were they targeted?

This is an exciting and well written thriller with an intriguing plot which becomes increasingly sinister as the story progresses. Characterisation is excellent, especially of Dale himself, who is superficially flippant, sarcastic and sometimes immature, but these are mostly part of the armour he needs to protect himself in his difficult work. Narrator, Adam Verner again captures his personality well and also breathes additional life into the other protagonists with individual voicings. His is a pleasant, well paced presentation although there is just a tad too much whimsy in the timbre of his reading at times. But this is occasional and in no way deminishes his very accomplished performance.

Starting with an amazing ten plus minute foot chase through a busy shopping centre and ending on a quiet note of more thoughtful introspection, this is a really enjoyable action packed mystery thriller with a difference. I am indebted to the rights holder of Dream On for freely gifting me a complimentary copy, at my request, via Audiobook Boom. Thank you. I enjoyed it immensely and recommended it to all readers who like the more quirky thrills of crime investigation, especially those with an historic bias and strong, interesting characters.

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4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-09-18

One, two three - out you go.

Harry's office (his sanctum of sanctums) is invaded by an FBI agent demanding he finds an old nemesis, 'Shady' Tree who, Agent Packer claims, murdered one of their undercover men - and he has a grainy photo to prove it. But Harry doesn't believe him. Shady might be a nasty character but not a killer. Then the agent spins a tale about terrorist activity and a missing nuclear weapon, so Harry and his team agree to find Tree but nothing more, after all, Harry is about to become a father any time now.

This story is a full on thriller with Harry Starke's emotions ramped right up to bring out the nastiest of his nature. Narrator, Tom Lennon, fully assumes Harry's personality in this already well characterised first person relating of the story, further infusing him with a very believable persona as well as also delivering distinctive voices for everyone else. A good performance.

Although pushing into the need for suspension of disbelief at times, there is a feel of reality for much of the book, especially in the interaction between players.
An enjoyable, gritty thriller which stands alone despite being book 13 in a series.

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5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-09-18

It is done, Terry. It's all over.

Audiobook )
"It is done, Terry. It's all over now."
Just superb. Starting simply with the experiences of three young Austrian students in 1955, following rumours of lost German treasure in the area of Lake Topletz, this part alone merits the star rating. The tension is electric, encouraged both by the narration and a gentle background sound track, as the three dive and explore with metal detectors, uncovering what had to have been the old marine weapons test centre known to have been located there but subsequently destroyed. Then the time frame is switched back to the last months of WWII, the Test Centre itself and those working within it before following the individual lives of four American soldiers who had found the building just after it's abandonment.

The characterization is good, especially tracking the soldiers. Natural conversation and reactions from all of them, including the often muddled thought processes inside their heads. The adventure, although essentially a simple but good one, fully holds the reader's attention, pieces of the of the story being released through the book until the jigsaw picture is finally complete. And throughout the excellent narration by Ben Werling, there also runs a subtle reinforcing soundtrack.

I was most fortunate in being freely gifted a complimentary copy of The Kammersee Affair by the rights holder, at my request, via Audiobook Boom. Thank you. This is a book to experience not just to hear, and recommended to all who enjoy mystery thrillers especially those interested both in relic searches and the lives of soldiers in the latter part of, and following, war.
Yes, simply superb.

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3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-09-18

Why is it always a van?

Smith, the book, is a hard one to quantify. It starts out well, the usual format of bored 18 years old Jake and his friend exploring the local archeological dig which had so engaged his father's attention. It is dark, they hear voices, see a man killed, and hide; and, in so doing, find a small pouch containing an ancient looking gold ring. Jake puts it on.

What follows is, firstly, comedy, turning to a strange sort of adventure which then dissolves into a miasma of murder and exploding bodies. The humour gets stale, the death toll ridiculously catastrophic, the ending predictable. Apart from an initial teenage angst, there is little attempt at any characterisation, even for Jake, let alone the other protagonists. The whole is a cartoon, two dimensional gore fest which could have been fun had the book been shorter by a couple of hours. Too much for too long. The narration is excellent, the voice of Smith being performed in a pseudo upper class English accent, other voices clearly distinct and separate. The text is also well performed, the well modulated tones of John Pirhalla pleasant to hear and in tune with the action.

My thanks to the author, Sam B.Miller, by whom I was freely gifted a complimentary copy of the book, at my request. I had read and enjoyed a couple of his previous works and admit to being surprised by this one. Much of it was fun but the humour became stale and died away - like most of those making brief entry into the story. But it might well appeal to younger members of the games playing blow them up generaton.

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