Shatter by Michael Robotham



Stephen King was right…..  ****


On the cover of this novel Stephen King is quoted as saying, “The most suspenseful book I read all year.” My first reaction to this was, really? After Robotham’s last book, The Night Ferry, I was skeptical.  Now, having read Shatter, I agree with Stephen King.

Robotham mixes first person viewpoints between psychologist Joe O’Laughlin and the antagonist. This works well and keeps the plot moving at a fast pace.  The mind of the villain is unnerving to say the least.  This is not a book for the squeamish or faint-hearted.

While the twists and turns are fairly predictable, the ride to the end is worth the read. Robotham is able to build tension that keeps you turning the page even though you are sure of were he is heading. It has been a while since a book evoked emotion in this reader.

The basic idea of the story revolves around what you would do if you thought someone had your child. Robotham takes the idea of the phone call where someone says your child needs money to get bailed out of a situation, and pushes it over the top, the situation now life threatening and the request is for more than cash.

This is the most suspenseful book I have read all year, but then it is only February, so hopefully not the last.

This one gets four stars. Four, not five, for being predictable.

The Night Ferry by Michael Robotham



The Ferry to Nowhere…….    **


This is the third book by Michael Robotham and it falls short of the first two. Alisha Barba is resurrected and the novel is written in first person from her viewpoint.

First person narration can be fun to read and is difficult to write. Robotham shows he has yet to master the technique.  His attempt at first person made this a tedious read. This was surprising since his first two books had first person viewpoints also, and were fine. The repetition of “I” in this one was overdone.

In addition, there were too many loose threads left hanging. One example, when Alisha is picked up by the British equivalent of homeland security, she is suddenly released without a clear reason. Certain scenes were unbelievable and Alisha kept doing what I would call stupid things. She put herself in dangerous situations that contradicted her cop instinct. After a long description of her karate expertise, she is later overpowered by someone she should have been able to defend against.

There is a detailed description of human trafficking, as well as the prostitution in Amsterdam. While some of this is needed for the story, too much space was devoted to both.

There is no real mystery, no real twist, and no suspense. The ending is cliche.

This one gets two stars, should have been one but I added one for effort.

A Broken Hallelujah: Rock and Roll, Redemption, and The Life of Leonard Cohen by Liel Leibovitz


A better title: The Soul of A Man…..    ****

In the introduction Leibovitz states that this is not a biography. Interesting that Philip Weinstein said the same thing in his book about Jonathan Franzen. The difference being, Weinstein was right in that his was simply a book report on the works of Franzen, while Leibovitz digs deep into the soul of Leonard Cohen.

Using bits and pieces of Cohen’s life, Leibovitz gives great insight into the words found in Cohen’s poetry and songs. He shows how this artist developed over the years and what led him to become such an icon. Beginning with the remarkable incident at the Isle of Wright, where Cohen calmed a riotous crowd, chronicling Cohen’s early struggles, and ending with a discussion of the song, “Going Home”, Leibovitz gives a remarkable account of Leonard Cohen, the man.

Liel Leibovitz has a vast knowledge of the music industry and he lets it show in this biography. His short dissertation on the Doors was very interesting. WARNING: Doors fans might get a little miffed at some of his comments.

My only issue with the book was that it is too short.  There are songs and poems I would have loved to hear Leibovitz’s thoughts and insight. Other than that, this is a must read for any Leonard Cohen fan.

This one gets four stars.

Even Dogs In The Wild by Ian Rankin



Old dogs, old tricks……    **


The hero, John Rebus is old and retired, the villain, Big Ger Cafferty, is old and on his way out, and unfortunately, Rankin’s writing is old, repetitive, and cliche. Having read all of the Rebus mysteries to date, I was looking forward to another good read. Sadly, I was disappointed.

This book focuses more on Siobhan Clarke and Malcolm Fox, both of whom are not very dynamic characters and were better as sidekicks. The plot has a few twists and turns but relies on worn out story lines to plod through.  Rankin falls into the Michael Connelly trap of spending too much time giving us turn by turn directions as the characters drive from point A to point B.

The previous Rankin novels had a compelling story and kept me turning pages, this one lost me almost from the beginning, but I kept reading thinking it would get better. There were too many characters and nothing about most of them held my interest.

I can only hope this was a dip in the normal great writing of Ian Rankin and he is not following writers like Connelly, Child, and Patterson who will never darken my bookshelf again.

This one gets two stars with a wish on both.