Lost by Michael Robotham

Lost

 

Twisting and turning……    ****

 

In this second novel in the series about Joe O’Loughlin, Robotham gives us the first twist by making DI Ruiz the narrator. It is actually Ruiz’s story with O’Loughlin as a side character.

The novel opens with Ruiz suffering from amnesia after being shot.  As he recovers and slowly regains his memory, the reader discovers what happened along with him.  I liked this device. It made this book a page turner and made it harder to predict where the story was going.

The only flaws are the abundance of characters that were a little difficult to keep straight, and the couple of times the author forgot Ruiz’s condition, having him do things that would have been hard for a man with a wounded leg.

This book kept me gripped and with its fast pace was an easy read. I look forward to the next in the series.

This one gets four stars.

 

 

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Ned Kelly by Peter Fitzsimons

nedkelly

 

 

Makes American Outlaws seem tame……   *****

This is an amazing story. Not only is it well written and well documented, Fitzsimons narrates in a way that makes you feel you are living and seeing this true saga as it is happening.

The story of Ned Kelly and what happened to his family shows how some things have not changed. Impoverished, Kelly turns to horse stealing to augment his family’s needs. He is falsely accused of shooting a constable who had made advances to his sister. His mother, who did hit the constable is incarcerated. This leads to Kelly commiting further crimes and is considered an outlaw.  When a small posse is sent after him, he shoots one of them in self defense. Because of crooked lawmen, bad judges, and a poor defense lawyer he is convicted of cold blooded murder and hung for a crime he did not commit. His trial is an uncanny parallel to what happened recently to Steve Avery,  documented in The Making of A Murderer.

The characters are compelling, evoking emotions from sympathy to disgust. The epilogue gives an excellent wrap up of what happened to each person in this story after Kelly’s hanging. Ironically, the two concerns Ned Kelly had while alive, the corrupt police and the rich land grabbers, are both addressed by the government because of his case. Just too late to have saved him.

This is a page turner, and while lengthy, I didn’t notice the length, and it kept me engrossed until the end.

This one gets five stars.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

four cigars

Four Cigars

 

When this movie started, I felt like it was going to be a cheesy version of the Star Wars franchise.  It builds slowly, the acting is mediocre, and there is a comic book feel. Then Han Solo and Chewbacca appear and in the words of Harrison Ford, I felt like I was home again.

From this point on the movie picked up its pace and I began to feel the tension I remember from the Star Wars film of 1977. By the end, this film had redeemed itself in my eyes, and the last scene with Mark Hamill was perfect.

While this is one of the best episodes since the first film, it did have its weak points. The character of Kylo Ren felt like a cheap version of Darth Vader. His helmet was not menacing, I wasn’t sure if he was going to reach for a light sabre or a welding torch.

The scene where Rey is fighting Kylo and tunes into The Force, had a Disney feel to it. As a matter of fact, in one of the scenes where the Resistance fighters are getting ready, one of the characters that goes by looked just like Happy, one of the seven dwarfs.

Another funny flaw was when Rey lands for the first time at the base, two pilots go running by as if heading for a fighter. But as the camera pulls back they run past the last plane and it looks like they are just going to run off into the sunset.

In spite of all that, this film was able to take me back in time and make me feel like it was 1977 once again.

This one gets four cigars!

Batavia by Peter Fitzsimons

batavia

 

Mutiny On the Bounty meets Lord of the Flies…..   *****

 

This is an incredible account of how depraved the human race can be. Had this been a novel, it would be unbelievable, but it is a true story.

Peter Fitzsimons is an amazing writer, who can take facts and write them in a narrative style that is as much a page turner as any good thriller. In the preface, Fitzsimons admits that he wants to accurately “convey the unprecedented drama of the Batavia wreck”, and that his approach may invoke criticism. He was right on both counts. For this reader, however, I enjoyed his method and compliment him on bringing this tragedy to life.

Meticulously researched and with the creativity of a poet, Fitzsimons tells the story of how a group of men can be influenced by a charismatic leader, and be convinced to do deeds completely barbaric. It is hard to imagine the hardships suffered and endurance that the men and women in this story required to survive. The brutality is unimaginable, the stamina mind boggling, and the fact that there were survivors is nothing short of miraculous.

This would make a great film. Maybe Ron Howard should have done this instead of In The Heart of the Sea, the story of Moby Dick.

This one gets five stars.

 

The Suspect by Michael Robotham

thesuspect

 

Not bad for first novel….  ***

 

After seeing a tweet from Stephen King praising Robotham’s Close Your Eyes, I decided to check out this author. Since Robotham writes a series about the character Joseph O’Loughlin I wanted to start with the first book.

The Suspect is a good read, fast paced, and although predictable, it is a good suspense novel. The protagonist, O’Loughlin, is a psychologist who suffers from Parkinson’s disease. This makes for an interesting and unusual story line.

Robotham’s style is humorous, complex, informative, but at times suffers from over writing. A better editor would have cleaned out some of the unnecessary passages, making this a tighter read. The ending stretches the boundaries of believability but with a twist that satisfies the reader.

I will be reading the rest in this series and hopefully will find one that, like Stephen King, “I can’t put down.”

This first one gets three stars.