First of This Month’s Thrillers: Missing Pieces by Tim Weaver
When Bek Murphy accompanies her brother on a trip to a remote island off the American coast where he is to interview an archaeologist, she could never have guessed how her life was about to be turned upside-down.
The novel is very suspenseful almost all the way through – the tension is visceral on virtually every page. It opens with Bek on her own on the island, and we soon realise the place is only inhabited during the summer and she has missed the last ferry of the season. Worse, someone is trying to murder her and she has been separated from her brother. One question that hangs over the whole story is what has happened to him and why.
Totally isolated and knowing the killer is getting ready to come for her, she must prepare while she can. She knows the saying that “attack is the best form of defence”, and Bek is a determined and resourceful woman, but even that doesn’t seem enough to keep her alive when the killers arrive.
It’s a cleverly structured thriller, cutting repeatedly between events happening now on the island and what happened when they first arrived, slowly revealing the dire situation she is in and raising more questions about who is involved and why she has been targeted.
Although the end is possibly a little flat in comparison to the rest of the story, it does satisfactorily answer all the questions and nicely ties up all the loose ends. Overall, this story is very tense and page-turning, and definitely recommended. A great standalone thriller.
This Month’s Second Thriller: The Chain by Adrian McKinty
A clever and intriguing plot about unwilling kidnappers. Unfortunately, there were quite a few places where I thought, “That wouldn’t happen,” which did spoil it somewhat. However, the story was tense, and I found myself keen to know what happened next, which was more than enough to keep me reading despite my disbelief.
The tale is told in two halves. The first part starts when Rachel O’Neill’s daughter is kidnapped. The release demand is not solely money – the hostage will only be released once she has also kidnapped another child and passed on the same demand to their parents. It’s called “The Chain”, and the female kidnapper tells Rachel that her own child was taken and will only be released once Rachel has done what’s needed.
Frantic, Rachel complies and, with the help of her brother-in-law, targets another family. Having prepared the basement of a nearby unoccupied holiday home, she kidnaps a young girl and keeps her locked up. True to their word, the woman who had been forced to kidnap Rachel’s daughter now releases her.
But the story is far from over. Having been released, Rachel’s daughter is clearly suffering PTSD. Rachel, too, has been affected psychologically and is continually watching over her shoulder. Eventually, she decides she can live like that no longer and realises the only way to get her life back is to find out who is behind The Chain and to prevent them from continuing.
She starts by using the Tor anonymous browser and creates a blog asking for anyone with info about The Chain to contact her. The one answer she gets sets her on a dangerous trail that eventually brings her face-to-face to those behind the crimes.
It’s definitely exciting and well worth the read provided you’re happy to set aside the occasional “that wouldn’t happen!” I discussed it briefly with someone else who had also read the book, and they made exactly the same comment; like me, though, they were also happy to recommend it as a good book to read.
Peak at a Blog: Crazy Paperback Book Size Changes
Have you noticed how mass market paperbacks have become larger over the last 10 years? I’m talking genre fiction here rather than “literary” stuff. Have you ever wondered why? Certainly, if I look at my bookshelves, my collection of thrillers from the seventies and eighties are all exactly the same small size, whereas more recent ones have a variety of larger sizes.
This month’s blog digs into why the change has come about and what standards exist for paperback book sizes.
Take a peak of this month’s blog. You can find it at iancoatesthrillers.wordpress
From a Writer’s Desk
While I’m sweltering as my office hits 28oC indoors, my work has moved to China. No, I’ve not headed to The Orient in person, but the protagonist in my work-in-progress thriller has just flown there via Hong Kong on the trail of criminals making counterfeit medicines. I was in China myself on business for a short period a few years ago while I worked in electronic product design, and I took copious notes in a tiny notebook. I’m mining those as I create the scenes, but I now wish I had made even more observations – as I write, I’m finding bits I didn’t record. More photos would have been useful, too. I think I’m going to have to supplement my notes with some good travel guides.
If you can recommend any books that give a real feel for the smells, sights, and sounds of China, please drop me an email (just hit reply).
In the meantime, I’m wondering how to get the temperature down a bit in here. I’ve got the router, my PC and monitor, a RAID system (hard drives that give some protection against disk failures), desk light, and other IT stuff all generating heat around me. Moving everything on to a laptop and sitting outside in the shade is tempting, but it’s even hotter out there. I’ll just have to keep up the ice cubes down by shirt back.
News from the Book World: Indie Bookshop Week
Last month contained Independent Bookshop Week. Its aim is to facilitate a series of nationwide events that celebrate the role indies play in the community. Did you get to any? A lot of author talks and signings took place around the country, some of which tried to be different by including demonstrations or activities. Two that stood out for me were one in Bristol where the author ran a demonstration of fermentation, and another in Cardiff that included a workshop on how to sew recycled bouncy-castle fabric into a book bag.
Techie Snips: Supersonic Flights
I was fascinated to read this month how NASA is working on producing supersonic aircraft designs that reduce the loudness of the sonic booms as they cross the sound barrier. Do anyone of you remember Concord? I used to live in Reading and it would regularly fly overhead as it left Heathrow. I never got to hear its sonic boom because it only ever went supersonic over sea, but it was noisy enough as it was. Beautiful to see if flying, though.
What NASA is doing is working on the wing shapes. They believe they can reduce the boom to no louder than a slamming door by getting the shape right. If successful, do you think this might reintroduce supersonic passenger flights?
Freebies & Competitions
Dead Good Books is holding a draw this month for a paperback of Cameron Ward’s A Stranger on Board, a novel they describe as “a twisty thriller”. It’s open until July 23rd, so you’ll need to get over to their website sharpish to be in with a chance for that.