Spring reads

Kowloon

This marks the ninth week since my last reading list. Since then, I have done four novels. I started off with Fractured (Slaughter), dealt with Good Girl Bad Girl (Robotham), dissected two Connelly’s, before finally chipping away at The Institute (King). If I’m not mistaken, this is the first inventory this year without a non-fiction book. I must admit that I tried this book about sleep but found it too dense. Furthermore, I read 100 pages of Genesis (Slaughter) before realising that I had already crested this text years ago. Regardless, here is a recap of the past two months:

  • Fractured (Slaughter). The second book in the Will Trent series, as expected, Fractured once again takes place in Atlanta. The fictional Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) is called into a suburban homicide. Special Agent Will Trent is sent to the crime scene, where a mother is reeling after stabbing her daughter’s supposed murderer to death. As it turns out, the slain teen may not be her daughter after all, and the ‘murderer’ may have only been trying to save her kid. This leads to an investigation involving a private school, an exclusive community, and university lodgers. We also get introduced to Faith Mitchell and her teenage son, both of whom would become regulars in the succeeding works.

The plot is thus more complicated than a simple double murder. Fractured is a fast-paced thriller that leaves you guessing till the end. Moreover, the paperback subverts the reader’s perceptions: from the perp to the survivor. Aside from being a bestselling crime novel, Fractured is an insider’s look into relationships, be it between teenagers, couples, GBI partners and teachers. This book is a worthy follow-up to Triptych.

Rating: 4.55/5

  • Good Girl, Bad Girl (Robotham). This marks only my second Robotham but I was mighty impressed. Imagine a girl who has a gift of spotting lies. Now this same girl, Evie Cormack, was found alone in an attic, refusing to reveal any personal details to authorities. Police psychologist Cyrus Haven knows how it feels like to lose the lot. He throws the rebel a lifeline, helping her reside in his family home. He makes it clear that she will be a purely platonic foster child. Despite Evie’s immaturity, Cyrus tries to make it work. He even buys her a pet.

Cyrus is currently working a potential murder involving an expecting teen. DNA suspects that said kid was involved in an incestuous relationship, which makes Cyrus focus his attention on the runaway’s uncle. The latter coached the missing adolescent, who was a talented figure skater. As the days pass, Cyrus feels that time is ticking away and that every lead, every question, and every moment counts. For most of the book, we are led to believe that the uncle was responsible…until Robotham throws a curve ball near the end. The conclusion is as dramatic as it gets, with threats, fireworks, and an unfolding crime scene. Same with Triptych, this text advances the depth of a mother’s love. A compelling re-introduction into the world of Robotham, I also loved the short chapters.

Rating: 4.7/5

  • Nine Dragons (Connelly). Published a decade ago, we witness Harry Bosch drawn into the world of triads. Years ago, we remember how Harry sought shelter from an Asian store owner during the heat of riots. That man, Mr Li, is shot dead in an apparent heist. However, as Mr Bosch enters the scene, he infers that this is no ordinary gun-down. He deduces that bad elements are in play, and soon hypothesises that this was a deliberate hit. As he gets deeper into the case, his family gets involved. The prime suspect is released after an empty weekend of questioning, and Bosch is without a paddle.

His girl, Madeleine, is abducted and things point to a Hong Kong connection. Bosch races against time zones to meet his ex-wife and puts together that his girl is being held in Kowloon (‘nine dragons’ in Chinese). They put their differences aside for one common goal: to find Maddie. Tragedy strikes when Eleanor is killed in a shootout inside a hotel. With the help of Sun, Bosch gets to the bottom of this. Counting the sleepless flight from LA, the detective deals with a 40-hour day. He would eventually find out that all of this was a sham, and that his daughter was never in any real trouble. However, the ramifications were real, and it cost a daughter her mom. The Li murder turned out to have no connections to Triads. The killers were eventually apprehended, but not before Bosch lost his stubborn partner in the process. His ex’s demise sets off a domino effect that ripples through Bosch’s later appearances. Maddie now lives with him, and, with little warning, father duties are thrust upon. Bosch Many people have said that this is one of Connelly’s weaker efforts in the Bosch series. They point to a rushed plot, specifically an over-and-done with HK interlude. FYI, he followed this up with Scarecrow, another subpar outing. I have to agree with the majority; this feels hurried and contrived and was not his finest hour.

Rating: 4/5

  • The Lincoln Lawyer (Connelly). The first book in the Mickey Haller series, TLL was adapted into a Hollywood film starring Matthew McConaughey and Marissa Tomei. This is more legal fiction than crime drama, and extra time is spent in favour of courtrooms and civilian cars as opposed to forensic labs, morgues and police cars. This 2005 release introduces us to the maverick defense attorney, who latches onto a rich client, his so-called franchise client. Like an ace player in team sports, Louis Roulet is Haller’s meal ticket. Mick admits that these defendants do not pop in often, and so he does his best to ensure that Roulet would be a free man. Mick makes the deadly mistake of assuming that Roulet is innocent of battering a young woman. This costs him a friend and he is being framed from said friend’s murder. Furthermore, Roulet threatens his family, particularly over his 8-year old daughter. Haller has to deal with two ex-wives, the second one being his secretary.

As the title suggests, Haller rides around in his Lincoln. He has four of them, in case you’re wondering. He lives in a house on the hills with ‘a view to a kill’. He gives back to the community, doing pro bono work for a number of hopeless cases. Just as he read Roulet wrong, he likewise realises that another client – sentenced to life without parole – was actually innocent. He had failed the system twice. The book builds up to a frenetic finish, from the courtroom duels between Haller and Minton, the newbie prosecutor. Then there’s the battle among Haller and Roulet, who is a closeted psychopath. Pinch in Haller’s personal life and there’s no shortage of fireworks.

Rating: 4.25/5

  • The Institute (King). My current read, I’ve only dented a little of this so far. Yet in spite of the short introduction, I’m liking what I’ve seen. There are two main story lines in this one: a group of teenagers with special abilities trapped in a compound. This batch is trapped in a Maine forest. Meanwhile, in a parallel story line, erstwhile cop Tim Jamieson starts in a new life in off-the-grid South Carolina. This book has been compared with Stranger Things, and with good reason. I also understand that this has been dubbed as King’s best effort in years. Some have called it as a return to form; in short, classic King.

So, there you have it: I’m four and four; four books, four novels and one more in progress. I hope I’ve handed you a few good recommendations. Till next time.     

Waterloo Station
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