Tuesday, September 1, 2015

TenebrisTenebris by Tim Curran
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

They don't call Route 50 'the loneliest road in America' for nothing, it's not a road you want to break down on, no phone signal and you could end up with the worst kind of sunshine break. Jim, Rita and Dinah are traveling down Route 50 when a shape swoops down on them from out of the blackness, first disbelief, then dismissal and then 'it's coming' . An intense feeling of impending doom.

'It was like being in a dark room and knowing, knowing someone was in there with you sharing the space. You could feel them but you could never really be sure where they were until they reached out and touched you.'

Then something hit the SUV, scraped along the roof with claws and Route 50 suddenly turns into the road to hell, and not due to Chris Rea singing. Panic stations, absolute terror and the vehicle flips of the road, Jim's friends are literally ripped from the vehicle by something just a little bit frightening.

Conspiracy theorists are us contact him and Jim is drawn, quite willingly back to the scene of the incident, where he really, really shouldn't go within a million miles of. It becomes an obsession that is never going to end well.

As monsters stories go this wasn't one of Tim Currans best efforts, I kinda rode with it but, well, it was a gentle ride not one fraught with unnerving danger or scares. As folklore myths go, it was just too easy to find. I felt that if I went down Route 50 in a tank wearing a blindfold with earplugs in, I'd still run into this nightmare monster. I mean if you stood there and felt a sudden draft followed by a stench of death, then yep, it's just flown over you. I wasn't really bothered with any of the characters, they never felt real and I didn't care whether any of them survived. In conclusion, it's well written as all Tim Curran's stuff is, some will love it, I didn't.

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Left To DarknessLeft To Darkness by Craig Saunders
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In Left to Darkness, Craig Saunders gives us his twisted vision of the pre, present and post-apocalyptic dream, or nightmare in this case. Where the world changes in the aftermath of a meteor strike and a whole bunch of characters from very different walks of life, fight to survive.

Set around London, the gridlocked M25, nice to know some things never change, even at the end of days, when the shit most definitely hits the fan and everything else in the vicinity, you still can’t get off that bloody ring road.

Frank Liebowicz is a big bastard who beats the fuck out of people for a living, we join him on one of those jobs as he commits a schoolboy error of epic proportion, his quarry, faceplanting concrete before a scrap of information can be pulled, job definitely not done.

'On that note, Frank figured if he was going to fuck a job properly, there was no point in half-assing the bastard. So, he stamped as hard as he could on Johnny’s prone head, just in case. Big feet, hard boots, and 250 pounds, plus a lot of heart and soul.'

Dawn Graves, pregnant, sitting at home waiting for hubby, unfortunately he's late and that's because he's having his wicked way with new girl Silvia in the works toilet. Robert Graves is about to wish he never ploughed this particular field and to cap it all, he's about to lose his plough as big brother Sid intervenes in wickedly violent fashion. This is not the last we see of twisted siblings Sid and Silvia, they will be changed in the aftermath and not in a good way. Robby appears only briefly but his balls do swing merrily, as for his wife, she plays a vital role.

'The new girl had one high-heeled shoe on the tiled floor, and one bare foot on the rim of the toilet, pushing her ass back against Robby and groaning, head hanging down, hair over her face. Robert’s balls were swinging back and forth merrily in the gap between her legs.
What the fuck was her name?'

And policeman Paul Deacon, drafted into the riot squad, sees at first hand the frenzied and insane brutality, as the world plunges into madness. He then meets two particularly barbaric individuals, a brother and sister, and torture will be the order of the day.

All these characters have parts to play in this new world, when the skies stay dark and the atmosphere is full of dust, when psychopaths come to the fore, a naked man smokes as if the cigarette has only just been invented. A man of power and magic, and a man who spins the wheel of this new world as he seeks the last child.

'The smoking man wasn’t in the market for dying. Hadn’t been for a long time. He’d been… waiting? Dormant? The truth was frustrating for the smoking man, but best he could figure was that he’d been waiting a long, long time, in the wings. Now? Now it was his show.'

Craig Saunders writes with a style that is wickedly humorous yet dark and brutal, something to make you sit up and take note, danger, shock, then a laugh stifled. His stories literally snap, crackle and then burst from the page to slap you about the face, a true master of dark fiction who just cracks me up time after time. His characters are real, people you could imagine meeting, maybe having a drink with if you mixed in those circles, then maybe punching your lights out in a drunken argument, just because they could.

This is not God's country, it's the devils and Left to Darkness is the first book in the Oblivion trilogy, roll on the second.

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Trilobite: Eyewitness to EvolutionTrilobite: Eyewitness to Evolution by Richard Fortey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

*** in progress, still reading ***
Trilobite: Eyewitness to Evolution covers all aspects of trilobites, from the numerous subspecies to fossils and all points in between.

Confession time: I love fossil hunting and I've stooped so far as to buy a small trilobite fossil at a rock swap. I've found trilobites fascinating since I was a little fossil hunter back in the day so I was pretty stoked to read this.

I had no idea there were so many subspecies of trilobite and how widespread the species was. The fossil photos were pretty cool. This may have been a case of too much of a good thing. I love trilobites but not enough to make our relationship Facebook-official. Fortey's obsession with trilobites rivals Gusse Fink-Nottle's newt obsession. An entire chapter was devoted to how the trilobite's eyes worked.

Richard Fortey is a pretty witty writer, which makes the painstaking detail of some of the chapters much more palatable. His stories took the edge off of what could have been a much drier book. Still, I have to wonder how much of what he reveals is speculation, considering the trilobite has been extinct for millennia. On a side note, I don't see why there couldn't be a small relict population of trilobites on the ocean floor someplace. It worked for the coelocanth.

While I was tired of Trilobites near the end, I can't deny that it was a pretty enjoyable book. Three out of five stars.

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Monday, August 31, 2015

Scarily Boring

Richard Scarry's Best Word Book EverRichard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever by Richard Scarry
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

* * * Note: I read and reviewed this along with my 5-year-old niece Emma * * *

Emma has real doubts about that title. I fought for Richard Scarry, but I'm afraid the 5 year old girl might be right.

Scarry's cartoony fantasy land populated with eyelid-less, anthropomorphic animals was absolutely beloved by yours truly when I was but a wee lad. However, this incarnation has none of the sense of fun found in the Scarry books I read as a boy. Nothing, I mean nothing out of the ordinary happens in Best.... In the Scarry books of my youth, the characters got into all kinds of zany japery. I recall one high-larious episode in which an ape went for a joy ride that turned the town upside down!

(In retrospect, I think the ape was a watch thief.)

This...thing is nothing more than animal people doing nothing untoward, just normal day-to-day activities: waking up in the morning, playing on the playground, building things, farming, going shopping, etc. There are pages of airplanes, cars, zoo animals, firefighters, things you'd find at the beach, and facial expressions. Each page is filled with these items. Each item has its word beside it. Each page has one short, explanatory paragraph with such "riveting" prose as:

School is fun. There are so many things we learn to do. Kathy Bear is learning how to find a lost mitten.

OH MY GOODNESS! Call out the National Guard! Someone get the Bureau of Lost Mittens on the line!

Holy hell, talk about boring.

Not only is this book fun-free, I couldn't even find my favorite character Lowly, an earthworm in a dashing little hat.
Aside from a logo on the cover, Lowly doesn't seem to appear in the book at all. Each page is so very busy that perhaps I missed him, but I looked and looked for such a long while that Emma went off to entertain herself elsewhere and came back some time later asking, "Did you find him?!" Yes, that exclamation point is necessary. Emma possesses an "indoor voice," but likes to know she's being heard.

Okay, so clearly Best... is meant to be a book for learning purposes, but did it have to be so purposefully dull? One reason my be that this was one of the author's very early books. I'm no Richard Scarry scholar, but it would seem he started off staid and later amped up the good times.

Whether you were born in the '60s or the '00s, kids like fun, and so for this one the Emma-o-meter registered utter disinterest.

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Friday, August 28, 2015

Liam Davis & The Raven

Anyta Sunday
Reviewed by Nancy
4 out of 5 stars


Liam Davis is a serious journalist, and he’s good at it.

Or at least, he was. Until the chief of Scribe, the campus magazine, makes him give up his politics column to write for the party page—the party page that is problematic for two reasons: One, it threatens Liam’s chance of getting the traineeship with his apathetic father at his prestigious newspaper company, and two, he has no idea what it means to party, let alone how to capture this new audience’s attention!

But Liam Davis is no quitter. He’s determined to prove to his father, the chief, and above all himself that he can do it—and do it well.

Life doesn’t make it easy. Not when Freddy Krueger comes stalking out of the shadows to attack him. Luckily the Raven, the campus vigilante—the vigilante getting hate mail sent to Scribe’s opinions page—comes to his rescue.

Now, between finding the perfect angle for his party page columns and making friends (and perhaps something more?), Liam needs to find this mysterious Raven—not only to thank him, but to warn him to watch his back.

My Review

Liam Davis is a student journalist writing for the campus magazine, hoping to gain apprenticeship at his father’s firm. In order for him to accomplish that, he needs to hold an editorial position for two years. He works hard and believes the features editor position is a possibility in the very near future, but Chief Benedict wants the students to be challenged. So he reassigns everyone to different positions. To Liam’s consternation, he is asked to write the party page. For lots of reasons, this really sucks. Liam is not a partier, he has no friends outside of work, and his life is solely devoted to studies.

If this story were told from any other perspective than Liam’s own, I might have found it difficult to finish. Even still, he was a difficult character and it took some time for me to warm up to him. As a journalist, Liam’s skills of observation are well honed. His social skills, however, need some work. Thankfully, the party page provides Liam with the opportunity to make some new friends and learn who the Raven is.

Liam is blunt and insensitive at times. He also seems incapable of expressing emotion or responding to others’ feelings. It’s awkward and frustrating at first, but I really enjoyed watching Liam slowly come out of his shell and gradually become a character I could empathize with. Liam’s character is well balanced by those of his new friends. There’s Quinn, his roommate, and his close friend, Shannon. There’s also Hunter, amateur photographer, and partially paralyzed after a brutal gay bashing incident. Liam’s two rivals at work, Jack and Jill, make his life difficult, as does his distant father.

These are very real, engaging characters that I enjoyed spending time with. The mystery surrounding Liam’s attacker and rescuer mystery was light and clever, with a few surprises. This is a thoughtful, humorous and entertaining story that made me smile.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Twelve Kings in Sharakhai

Twelve Kings in Sharakhai (The Song of Shattered Sands, #1)Twelve Kings in Sharakhai by Bradley P. Beaulieu
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

In the city of Sharakhai the people hope to see the Immortal Kings overthrown. Çeda, a young woman with a sad past, fights in the pits to make a living. Çeda as much as anyone prays for the downfall of the Kings and on one holy night she may have just received the hint she needs to overthrow them.

Twelve Kings in Sharakhai from the outside seemed so appealing. It has an interesting cover and the premise was promising. The first chapter of Çeda fighting in the pits as The White Wolf enveloped me with excitement, but unfortunately the story meandered past mediocrity to the point of drudgery from there.

In many ways this book is centered around mystery, but for me it missed one crucial aspect necessary to make a good mystery...I need to care. I was unconcerned with the Kings secrets of immortality and Çeda's secret was painfully obvious. Page after page of mystery I wasn't concerned with and tangents that were no more interesting left me drained whenever I tried to read the book.

In the end Twelve Kings in Sharakhai just wasn't a story for me.

1 out of 5 stars

An advanced read copy was provided

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Half A War

Half a War (Shattered Sea, #3)Half a War by Joe Abercrombie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Mother War's long shadow has once again covered the Shattered Sea. Grandmother Wexen has built an unfathomably enormous army and means to crush all who stand against her.

Half A War was an interesting conclusion to the Shattered Sea trilogy. The story takes place three years or so after the events of Half the World. The uneasy alliance between Gettland and Vansterland still exists, but has been largely toothless as their ally Throvenland could attest to since they were eradicated and their allies did nothing to help.

Once again Joe Abercrombie opted for all new point of view characters and the results were mostly good. The new point of view characters are Princess Skara, Koll, and Raith. Princess Skara is the granddaughter of King Fynn of Throvenland. Skara's words are her weapons and she's forced to wield them to avenge her grandfather and her people. Koll is the energetic young boy from Half the World who has now become Father Yarvi's apprentice. Raith has been raised basically as a wild dog by his master Grom-gil-Gorm. He's also the sword bearer and cupbearer for Gorm.

I have to admit I would've preferred seeing Father Yarvi, Thorn, Brand, King Uthil, Grom-gil-Gorm, Grandmother Wexen, or pretty much any other crucial returning character to have the point of view chapters rather than the new comers. Much of the story is character driven and while Skara and Koll make fine characters I felt as though Raith was a plague nearly every time he appeared. He just felt false and I could hardly believe or relate to anything that happened with him.

Abercrombie takes another stab at love with two separate love stories intermixed and while one of the two was equal to Thorn and Brand's story in Half the World the other felt incredibly forced and fake.

This book left me with a different feeling about some of the returning characters. The Iron King Uthil earned my respect and admiration as a character. Steel is the answer and Uthil brings it every time he appears in the book. Father Yarvi and Grom-gil-Gorm on the other hand became underhanded snakes and I don't mean that in any nice way.

Half A War is a good title for this book because the story started wrapping up about 80 pages too soon. Unfortunately the plot again became rather predictable and I figured out what was going to happen with incredible accuracy. Even though this book is aimed at a young adult audience, the writing is still grim and brutal. I really don't see how this qualifies as young adult other than that it's less grim, brutal, and sexual than Abercrombie's adult novels.

Half A War was an adequate finale to the Shattered Seas trilogy.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015


The Shadow Over InnsmouthThe Shadow Over Innsmouth by H.P. Lovecraft
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

”One night I had a frightful dream in which I met my grandmother under the sea. She lived in a phosphorescent palace of many terraces, with gardens of strange leprous corals and grotesque brachiate efflorescences, and welcomed me with a warmth that may have been sardonic. She had changed--as those who take to the water change--and told me she had never died.”

It might have been the uncertain light from the flickering fire casting deceptive shadows across my friend’s face or maybe it was the way the lush, aromatic smoke from our smoldering cigars circled around his head, but I could swear that I was seeing changes morphing the features of Robert’s face as he told me his tale.

He showed me a piece of jewelry with grotesque depictions of insidious looking creatures engraved on its surface. I rubbed the engravings vigorously with my thumb as if I could smear the gold and blur their hideous features.

“I’ve seen them.”

I gave him a startled look. “You mean in your nightmares like the fantastical one about your grandmother.”

He sighed and drained his glass of cognac and signaled into the darkness for another. “Jeffrey, you are my only hope. The only person I know who could even begin to fathom what I have seen, what I have experienced. Out of all my friends, you are the most likely to be able to set aside what you think are absolutes and allow me the courtesy of objectively considering that what I’m telling you could possibly be true.”

I nestled back into the oxblood leather of my chair. I considered the set of his face as best I could. His eyes seemed larger suddenly, black as if the pupils had encroached outside of their normal sphere. A waiter appeared, dressed in dark colors, barely distinguishable from the surrounding darkness except for a white napkin tucked in his belt. He dropped off two more cognacs and evaporated back into the midnight recesses of the room. I’d barely touched the first, but I felt that this might be a fine time to add some fortification, given that I felt an uncontrollable, insane urge to grab one of the decorative shields from the wall of the room so that I would have something between me and the words that were about to be shared.

I flicked a trembling hand in the air. My hand had a pale luminescence as if I were reaching for a torch burning under water. “I appreciate your faith in me, dear Robert, please do continue.”

He flicked the piece of jewelry with his finger. “These images are mere stick figures gouged into a cave wall by an ancient man when one compares them to what they actually look like.”

”I think their predominant colour was a greyish-green, though they had white bellies. They were mostly shiny and slippery, but the ridges of their backs were scaly. Their forms vaguely suggested the anthropoid, while their heads were the heads of fish, with prodigious bulging eyes that never closed. At the sides of their necks were palpitating gills, and their long paws were webbed. They hopped irregularly, sometimes on two legs and sometimes on four.”

“You’ve seen them yourself? If anyone else were describing these creatures to me, I’d think they’d been reading too many Penny Dreadfuls”

“I nearly didn’t escape them.”

He held up a hand to quiet the questions bubbling to my lips.

“I discovered that this piece came from Innsmouth, Massachusetts. My curiosity was peaked as to the origin of the artwork. Little did I know that I was being pulled by more sinister forces than just my own natural interest in the extraordinary.”

“What a peculiar statement, Robert. Are you saying that something was compelling you against your will to go to Innsmouth?”

I watched his hand reach out for his glass. The fingers, as they wrapped around the round curve of the cup, were deformed. It took me a moment to ascertain that the fingers were misshapen by what appeared to be webbing.

I gasped.

“What’s the matter, Jeffrey?”

I looked up at his face and then looked down at the hand again. Robert’s hand now looked as normal as my own.

I laughed weakly. “Your tale of fantastical creatures has permeated my brain with disturbing apparitions.”

Robert leaned forward. “Do I look alright?”

He did, too pale, the standard problem with academics. We all began to look like cave creatures after long bouts of research. Whatever morphing I was seeing was merely my own hallucinations. I was starting to wonder if I’d ingested something that was unbalancing my vision. “You look fine, Robert.”

“I’ve been seeing things in the mirror. The Innsmouth look as they say. It is as if something has been changing in me. I do wonder about my own sanity. I’ve been researching my family tree and have discovered that I am descended from a prominent Innsmouth family.”

“What an odd coincidence that is," I exclaimed.

“I’m beginning to believe that none of this has been happenstance, but more to do with predestination.”

“More like morbid curiosity, my old friend,” I said, but doubt was beginning to hang a heavy stone around my own assurances.

“I’m going back to Innsmouth. I do think that I will bring my uncle with me. You know the one that has been incarcerated for mental illness. I’ve been having thoughts of liberating him.”

“Liberating the insane? Is that wise?”

“Maybe he is not insane. Maybe he is just not where he is supposed to be.”

“You are worrying me, Robert.”

He sighed heavily. “It is all so complicated, but only because I keep denying what needs to be done. I’ve been keeping notes of my research and of my dreams. I’m leaving them with this scholar in Providence, Rhode Island, named H. P. Lovecraft. We’ve been corresponding for some time. A strange young man with a voracious appetite for anything I might know about these creatures.”

After we parted that night, I never saw Robert Olmstead again. After months of hearing nothing from my old friend, I decided to take the train to Providence and see if this Lovecraft fellow had seen or heard anything. I knocked and battered at his door, but he refused to come out to see me. His windows were covered with what looked like sheets of metal. I found a place where a hole had been bored through the window frame. As I peered through the aperture, I was momentarily shocked to find myself looking eyeball to eyeball with him. His eye widened and then fell away from me. I heard this awful clatter followed by what sounded like terror induced moaning.

I heard him scream something odd...something that sounded like Cthulhu. Though he screamed it several times, I’m still not sure I heard properly what he was calling out. After several more minutes of pounding on the door, extorting him, and menacing him with all forms of retribution for not helping me, I finally gave up.

There was nothing for it. I was going to have to go to Innsmouth.

The man who checked me into the hotel didn’t look right. ”He had a queer narrow head with a flat nose and bulgy, stary eyes that never seemed to shut. His skin was rough and scabby and the sides of his neck were shrivelled and creased up.” He had a half drowned, dropped on his head too many times look about him that sent a shiver up my spine.

“Have you seen my friend, Robert Olmstead?” I gave him a brief description. He looked at me for longer than was necessary and finally shook his head.

“Listen, you degenerate rogue, I can tell you are lying.” I slapped my hand on the counter for emphasis which made him jump back. The first look of mild intelligence crossed his amphibian features.

He walked around the counter, picked up my valise, and started up the stairs. I weighed my options, but decided it was late and probably the best thing for me would be to rest and recuperate from the long hours spent on the train. ”It would perhaps have been easier to keep my thoughts from disturbing topics had the room not been so gruesomely musty. As it was, the lethal mustiness blended hideously with the town’s general fishy odour and persistently focussed one’s fancy on death and decay.” To further discombobulate my already acute discomfort, the bolt for the door was missing. I wedged a rickety chair under the door knob. The chair looked old enough that Captain John Smith may have put the grooves in the seat with his very own buttocks.

I didn’t feel comfortable enough to undress or even pull my shoes off. I expected at any moment to have some horrendous beast burst through the door intent on my eminent destruction. I tossed and turned. The musty smell of the room and the general stuffiness of the high humidity was driving me to distraction. Finally out of desperation, I decided to leave the uncertain safety of my room for a brisk walk around the town. Few lights offered any help in determining a surefooted way. Luckily, the moon was full and illuminated a choice of paths. I decided that a walk down to the shoreline was probably my only hope of relaxation.

The smell of the salt air did clear my head. I peered out at the water and thought about the stories that Robert had told me. They couldn’t possibly be true. My fear was that his mind was cracking and that the unfortunate circumstances of his uncle might be one he currently shared. I noticed that the waves were being disturbed, that something, possibly wreckage from some unfortunate vessel, was coming ashore.

”For a closer glance I saw that the moonlit waters between the reef and the shore were far from empty. They were alive with a teeming horde of shapes swimming inward toward the town; and even at my vast distance and in my single moment of perception I could tell that the bobbing heads and flailing arms were alien and aberrant in a way scarcely to be expressed or consciously formulated.”

Fear gripped my spine. I wanted to scream, but only an inhuman gurgle was able to traverse the constriction of my throat. My legs, fortunately, responded, and soon I was fleeing at a helter skelter pace up the pathway to the hotel. There were several of them waiting for me outside the hotel, but I flailed my way through them, shuddering every time my fist or my boot came in contact with their foul, nauseating flesh. I ran down the road and out of town. After my stamina began to fail, I crawled into a ditch and shivered all night long expecting at any moment for a webbed hand to reach for me.

I must say, I feel no end of guilty torment over my decision, but I gave up on my quest to find Robert. Once back in civilisation, I returned to my books. I occasionally happened upon some mention of trouble at Innsmouth, but my eyes would always blur before I could read more than a few words. My hand refused to continue to hold the newspaper. I pined for my good friend, Olmstead, but I feared that if I ever did see him again, he would be a creature intent on making me immortal in the most grotesque of forms.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Disassembled ManThe Disassembled Man by Jon Bassoff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Disassembled man was my third read from author Jon Bassoff and his debut novel, from his other two stories the darkly disturbing Corrosion and the instantly forgettable Factory Town it would be interesting to see where this one would go. The Disassembled Man is told in a brash, maniacal first person narrative in true psychopathic style with lashings of dark and dirty humour.

Frankie Avicious is a man with a plan, one that's creeped up on him over time, shitty job at the slaughterhouse and a wife who has loads of potential in the wealth department but has let herself go somewhat over the years. Change is coming, he's making promises he can't possibly keep but that's not going to stop him trying and once you take the first step there’s no going back.

First off, he's in love with a stripper who sees him more as a stalker than a love interest, he hates his obese wife with a passion but her father is the big knob on the hill, a man with serious money. Now how can he get his hands on all that money and run away with the stripper of his dreams? It's gonna take some careful planning, or maybe not, let's just kill the old man, wife will inherit the money and then kill her, simple as.

Prepare yourself for a ride of carnage as possibly the most morally repressed man you've ever come across dives into a killing spree that would make psychos are us extremely proud.

Ruth is the wife and it would be fair to say that Frankie's love for her has waned just slightly over the years.

'She had more rolls than a bakery and more chins than a Hong Kong phone book.'

Tongue in cheek humour and violence follow after an argument.

'I should tell you now that Ruth suffered from a rare psychological disorder called insanity. The doctors gave her medication to stabilize her moods, but she must have forgotten to take her magic pills that day. In the wink of a con artist’s eye, she went from behaving like a loving housewife to a wild-eyed psychopath.'

And the punch that changes everything.

'but in all my life I don’t think I’d ever landed a better blow than this one. My fist vibrated, and she just stood there for a moment— the way a cartoon character remains suspended after walking off a cliff— then her knees gave way, and she collapsed to the floor.'

Frankie then has to win his Ruth back after she storms off, with money at the forefront of his mind, when he finally manages to convince her of his love it comes at a cost. A steamy night of passion and some hilarious scenes as Frankie in his mind goes to battle with a sexual tyrannosaurus.

'Then, like a Japanese kamikaze pilot, I readied myself for destruction. I dove into bed and was quickly smothered by the beached whale that was my wife.'

A mysterious traveling salesman named Jack Marteau takes an interest in hard drinking Frankie's fate as it becomes just a matter of time before he gets what's coming to him.

The Disassembled Man is a cringingly entertaining trip that has plenty of laughs, a war zones worth of violence and slaughter, some deranged family moments including incest and more than a fair share of depravity. All for money, the root of all evil but it's never that easy or we'd all have plenty of it. If moral fortitude and goodness of heart is what you're after then you're knocking on the wrong door with this story, prepare yourselves is all I will say.

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The Devil Gave Them Black WingsThe Devil Gave Them Black Wings by Lee Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Devil Gave Them Black Wings is a supernatural tinged thriller that resides in the aftermath of the falling twin towers.

Jacob walks a life of misery and despair, his wife lost in the disaster and he seeks closure, if it can ever be gained in the loss of a loved one, by burying her ashes at the house she grew up in. He can't find the house though and spends his time drinking in the park, sinking into the depths of depression.

This is where he meets Nina, a thirteen year old girl who recognises the sadness in him and also the goodness, he's broken and she needs to fix him.

'Her heart was pounding because he looked so goddamn lost, so in need of help, but she couldn’t help him, even at thirteen she knew that no matter how much somebody else needed you, you couldn’t change a thing in their lives: you could only listen if they spoke, and you could only hold them if they leaned on you.'

At the same time a little girl goes missing from the park, an abduction and a frenzy. People search for Jacob, the authorities, his wife's brother, Nina is desperate to see him and to warn him. Amidst the search for an abductor there's a dark, shadowy figure with names tattooed up his arms, a guardian or something much worse, a sheer nightmare.

'Only his features seemed to pulse, one moment blurry, the next razor sharp, then they’d blur again and for the life of him Jacob knew that if he looked away he would never be able to describe the man to anyone.'

A reporter toys with more depravity as she figures the abduction forms a pattern, a police officer looking for revenge and in the middle, one man grieving and one morally perceptive young girl deeply troubled by those around her.

'How much grief did you have to suffer, he wondered, before your mind shattered and you couldn’t keep anything straight.'

The Devil Gave Them Black Wings is a beautifully written tale of anguish, despair and immense sadness. A story of depth that is heart rending in places, the loss of a young love, a child not yet born and if that wasn't enough, a girl kidnapped in broad daylight. The parents distraught and burdened beyond measure with the knowledge that blame will never be far from thought.

Emotional just doesn't seem to cover it, there is darkness in people just as there is light and Lee Thompson expresses it better than most, flips between the two in the blink of an eye and you can't help being gripped by it all. I highlighted that many quotes that I actually found it difficult to pick the right ones for the review and that just about says it.

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