Monday, November 25, 2019

The Night Fire by Michael Connelly

When Harry Bosch's old mentor dies, leaving behind the murder book for a twenty-year-old unsolved case, the mystery seems to be why the old cop held onto the book for so long. And the answer isn't easy to come by. Bosch asks Renee Ballard to help unravel the mystery and she becomes determined to solve the the murder itself. But two decades on, this presents some obvious challenges. 

Meanwhile, Bosch's help on one of Mickey Haller's cases leads to the acquittal of a suspect in the murder of a California judge. But that also means the real criminal is still out there, something Bosch can't let go. But his digging catches the attention of officers none to pleased to see the retired cop lending a hand as well. And with Ballard's position in the force somewhat precarious as well, it seems neither of them is going to clear their respective investigations without making a few new enemies in the process. 

I'm not sure if I've mentioned, but I've been a bit intimidated by the Bosch series. I love the show—I think Titus Welliver is wonderful and I anxiously await each new season. But breaking into the books has been a bit harder for me to manage. I mean, this is technically number 22 in the series! That's a lot of backlist if you aren't sure starting from the middle will make sense.

But when Connelly started the Renee Ballard series a couple years back, I dove in headfirst. And when Ballard's and Bosch's paths crossed, blending the two series together, I was not deterred in the least! In fact, I even started working my way back through the Bosch books, starting with the audios narrated by Welliver himself! My tally so far this year is 6 Connelly titles, most of them on audio. And the year's not done yet.

Readers, you can safely say I am a fan!

The Night Fire continues a track started in the previous Ballard/Bosch outing, Dark Sacred Night, in which the two decide they'll work cases together. Which is why Bosch is comfortable handing the file left to him by his old mentor over to the Late Show cop. Ballard has the connections to more convincingly nose into the case and Bosch has a couple of fires burning on his end already that require attention.

The two work well together and I love the interplay between them. Bosch tends to take a fatherly role that Ballard bucks every chance she can get. I also love that this book brings Haller in as well, much the way the last handful of Bosch titles have. He's not a main player here, but a vehicle for a couple of the subplots running through the story, including the case Bosch takes on for closure.

If you're interested in diving into Connelly's work, I'd recommend starting with The Late Show at the very least. This is the first in Ballard's series and, while it doesn't involve Bosch, it does give you a chance to get to know Ballard as a character, which makes it easier to understand her motivations moving forward into Dark Sacred Night and The Night Fire.

Connelly is a master of crime fiction and an absolute (new) favorite of mine!

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Alien Echo by Mira Grant

Another lost review from the new baby days! If you haven't experienced those hazy days yourself and have your doubts as to their existence, I recently listened to the audio version of C.J. Tudor's The Hiding Place convinced it had been ages since I read it. Nope, I read it in February of this year! Time is all relative when you have a new baby in the house!

Alien: Echo was read in the same time period and I never did get around to posting about it. But, I'm a die hard Alien fan and an equally die hard Mira Grant fan, so I felt I needed to do a post even if it's been months since the book released!

Olivia and her sister Viola have moved to a new home, again. This time, it's a new colony that has hired their xenobiologist parents to research alien life. But when the colony purchases a ship previously used in biological research, a ship that they plan to strip and repurpose, the girls' father is sent as part of the team to ensure the ship is safe. 

Which of course, it isn't! 

The ship crashes and the previously peaceful colony is infested with xenomorphs. Now, Olivia and her sister will have to find a way to survive and escape before becoming prey themselves!

There are few surprises in Alien: Echo. It's pretty much exactly what you'd expect it to be. (As is the case with just about every installment in the franchise.) And yet, the sci-fi/horror combo is one that I crave on a level I cannot even begin to accurately describe! And, this is a YA installment too.

The world Grant has created here is one filled with unique creatures galore. Plus, the characters are great! Olivia and Viola are twins but Viola got dealt a bad hand. As such, she's housebound while Olivia is free to attend school and make friends. But they're thick as thieves, so Olivia comes to Viola's defense quickly and passionately.

But Olivia has a crush on a classmate and it's this crush, this desire to connect and foster a relationship that means something more, that drives Olivia as the book begins. And allows Olivia to make decisions that aren't really all that smart.

She recovers quickly. Olivia is a fighter and a survivor, both of which are necessary in an alien invasion!

So yeah, the book is exactly what you expect, but as a fan of the world who never can get enough, it's highly satisfying fun!

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Come Closer by Sara Gran

Amanda is changing. At first, it's little things: arguments with her husband, a new shade of lipstick, ordering the wrong book online. But then the little things spiral. The argument with her husband turns into her burning him with a cigarette. The new shade of lipstick is one she's accused of shoplifting, even though she's sure she didn't. 

And then there's the book. A book on demon possession that Amanda received by accident, surely. Except that the book resonates with her more and more with each passing day. 

Come Closer is one of those books that consistently pops up on best of genre lists. Published in 2003, it's almost embarrassing it's taken me this long to actually buy and read the book!

But I was in Houston in October and popped into Murder By the Book to attend the Yrsa Sigurðardóttir/Michael Stanley (Michael Sears) event, which happened to be taking place on the one night I was in town! And of course I had to do some shopping! The bookseller helping me pulled it off the shelf as one of her "dark" recommendations and I figured I'd waited long enough.

The book is about demon possession and makes no bones about it. There's very little question as to whether that's what's going on—from the moment Amanda receives the book and begins to wonder herself, it's clear she's being possessed. Instead, the momentum of the story is built by Amanda's attempts to overcome Naamah, the demon intent on possessing her.

It's a battle of wits, a psychological push and pull all going on within Amanda's mind considering almost no one around her, except maybe those possessed themselves, are aware that Amanda isn't in control of the changes she's going through.

Come Closer is a creepy read packed into a little more than 150 pages and one deserving of all the praise it consistently gets. If you're in the mood for a darker read that you can finish in one sitting, this is absolutely the book for you!

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Zero Day by Kelly deVos

Happy Book Birthday to Kelly deVos whose latest, Zero Day, releases today!

The day should have been just like any other. Jinx is excited for the end of school so she can go home and tackle a campaign she's been planning in her favorite online game. The only hitch is that she needs snacks. 

What Jinx didn't plan for, though, was an apocalypse-level political coup!

Luckily for Jinx, her father trained her and her brother for this. He even wrote the book about surviving it. But he's also accused of causing it. Now Jinx must navigate this new world while also facing complications that come from being the daughter of the man who may be responsible. 

Holy cow this is a frightening book!

As you start into Zero Day, it seems like you're diving into a contemporary teen novel set in today's world. But, within just a few lines it becomes clear that deVos has created a world similar to but different from our own.

There are two political parties, like our own, but these are called The Spark and The Opposition. What's more, the political upheaval in Jinx's world has resulted in a New Depression. Which is why, as the book begins, people are worried about the latest election results. Just how worried becomes all too clear within these opening chapters.

As mentioned, though, Jinx is somewhat prepared. Her father, aka Dr. Doomsday, is the authority on survival. He's also, as we soon find out, responsible for a program that was supposed to reveal system weaknesses but ended up being used to tear down those systems!

I really enjoyed the pacing and Jinx's smarts. I did, however, find the political aspects terrifying! deVos has very aptly created a world that's close enough to our own that the scenario here feels all too possible!

Zero Day is the first in a duology and I can't wait to see what'll happen next!