Book Review – Frozen Heat by Richard Castle

Frozen Heat by Richard Castle

Frozen Heat by Richard Castle

The blurb polices:

NYPD Homicide Detective Nikki Heat gets more mystery than she imagined when she arrives at her latest crime scene. The body of an unidentified woman has been found stabbed to death and stuffed inside a suitcase left sitting on a Manhattan street. A startling enough death, but an even bigger shock comes when this new homicide surprisingly connects to the unsolved murder of Detective Heat’s own mother. The gruesome killing of this Jane Doe launches Heat on a dangerous and emotional investigation, rekindling the cold case that has haunted her since she was nineteen. Paired once again with her romantic and investigative partner, top journalist Jameson Rook, Heat works to solve the mystery of the body in the suitcase while she also digs into unexplored areas of her mother’s background-areas Nikki has been afraid to confront before, but now must.

Facing relentless danger as someone targets her for the next kill, Heat’s search will unearth painful family truths, expose a startling hidden life, and cause Nikki to reexamine her own past. Heat’s passionate quest takes her and Rook from the back alleys of Manhattan to the avenues of Paris, trying to catch a ruthless killer. The question is, now that her mother’s cold case has unexpectedly thawed, will Nikki Heat finally be able to solve the dark mystery that has been her demon for ten years?

If you’ve read the rest of the series then you know what to expect, and if not then it’s a fairly conventional crime novel with the added interest that it’s a second layer of fiction on top of the TV show Castle.

With the TV show in mind, I’m not sure it would be within character for Detective Beckett to allow Castle to write a book based on her investigation of her mother’s murder.  The story of Heat’s mother is completely different to the story of Beckett’s mother, but I still would have thought it was too sensitive a topic for her to allow him to write a book about.

What raised this book from a serviceable crime novel to a good one were a couple of surprising twists.

What lowered it from a good novel back down to OK was the fact that it leaves a bunch of doors open for the next book in the series rather than ending properly.

Book Review – The Pillars of Sand by Mark T. Barnes

The Pillars of Sand by Mark T. Barnes

The Pillars of Sand by Mark T. Barnes

The blurb says:

Prophecy declared that corrupt politician Corajidin would rule the Shrīanese Federation, even become its new Emperor—and sinister magic has helped him defy death in order to do it. But his victory is not assured, thanks to clashing rival factions that hinder any attempts to unify the nation. Though he has taken increasingly brutal measures to eliminate all obstacles in his path, the dark forces supporting him grow dangerously impatient. And the harder they press, the more drastic Corajidin’s actions become.

Soon, only his most powerful adversaries will stand in his way: Indris, the peerless swordsman and sorcerer who has long fought to end the Federation’s bloody turmoil; and the warrior-poet Mari, Corajidin’s own daughter and the woman Indris loves. Fate has torn them apart, forcing them into terrifying personal trials. But if Indris can bring to bear the devastating knowledge of the Pillars of Sand, and Mari can rise up as a rebel leader, Corajidin’s enemies will rally—and the decisive battle for the soul and future of the Shrīanese will begin.

Overall I think this book is a solid ending to the trilogy.

It has all of the strengths and weaknesses of the previous books – the history is deep, the world building is strong but there are so many characters that it’s just impossible to keep up.  Actually the deep history is also a bit annoying because it’s so tantalizing and not something that gets explored at all – I really want the author to write a prequel.

Something that I found a bit weird was that the personalities of some of the main characters seems to have changed between the second and third books – people that were sneaky are reckless, some of the bad guys spontaneously became good etc.  Maybe I’m just remembering it wrong since it’s been a while since I read the previous book, but I’m not sure.

This isn’t a huge deal, but I would have liked to see the world a bit closer-up, and I think the reason that we didn’t was because every character is special.  They’re kings or famous scholars or impossibly old or the best swordsman in the world – nobody’s just a farmer or a shopkeeper.  You miss a lot of the world when you’re rushing from calamity to catastrophe.

Considering that we had been building up to the events in this book for over a thousand pages, some of them happened very quickly – almost dismissively.  It makes me think that the author is better at the build-up than the pay-off.

My biggest problem with this book is that not everything’s cleared up by the end.  I don’t know if it’s an attempt at realism (in real life nothing is ever really over) or leaving the door open for more books, but as this is the last book in the series I expected everything to be wrapped up.

Book Review – Raveler by John D. Brown

Raveler by John D. Brown

Raveler by John D. Brown

The blurb battles:

Talen is in the hands of a powerful half-beast, a creature twisted for war, who is convinced the most merciful thing to do with Talen is kill him. But he might not have that chance, for Nashrud, the Divine sleth hunter, is hot on their trail. As they flee, the two can only hope the perils of the Wilds will save them, for if they are taken, both will become the tools of Mokad.

Back on the coast, Sugar is sent to guide Argoth and a handful of warriors on a mission to assassinate Mokad’s Skir Master. To succeed they’re going to have to get through an army, patrols of dogmen, and at least 3,000 dreadmen. And that’s just in the world of flesh, for Mokad also has forces in the world of souls.

The odds against Talen and Sugar are immense. At the same time, their powers are awakening. And what they learn just might give mankind a chance against the army poised to annihilate them.

I liked the second book in the series less than the first one, and I liked this one even less.

There was no allowance for people who hadn’t recently read the second book (or heaven forbid hadn’t read it at all).  To the extent that I’m pretty sure the second and third books in the series are really just one book split in half – not least because they were released two weeks apart.

Even worse, although there was some resolution in this book, it left open (or opened) so many doors that it felt more like the end of the second book in a trilogy than the final book.

This series really did not go the way I thought it would when I finished the first book.

The first book was full of head trips, the second book had one, and this one had none – it was mostly a drawn out battle scene from several perspectives.