In the first of the Hannibal Lecter books, Thomas Harris introduces his infamous psychiatrist in this tale of a murderous psychopath caught in the grip of a demonic delusion. Lecter is already in jail, but the FBI needs his help to catch the killer of two families. Seeking to satisfy his sexual hunger, the self-styled Red Dragon, is already planning the next murder. Short on clues, the FBI bring in semi-retired investigator Will Graham to help track the killer, but with the murders linked to the lunar cycle, time is running out.
I first read this book many years ago after seeing the Michael Mann film version (Manhunter). Although Lecter only appears briefly in this one, Harris sets the stage for the sequels, ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ and ‘Hannibal’. He also introduces recurring characters, including Dr Chilton and Jack Crawford, and deftly keeps the tension on the boil as the police and FBI teams struggle to discover the identity of the killer.
This is a cracking good read from a master storyteller, and even if you’ve seen one or both movie versions, there’s plenty here to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Traveller Dave Tomlinson recreates his adventures exploring popular tourist trails as well as remote destinations. His travels take in a variety of cities and countries, from Indonesia and Australia, to Portugal and Ecuador, charting the highs and lows of his adventures in culture, food and fun.
Peppered with photographs of each destination, this pleasant little book was an easy read without being boring. The author’s accounts of his travels are told in an amusing way that conveys the excitement of his journeys and the hazards of travelling alone, in most cases without the benefit of knowing the language or using an interpreter.
The stories are all around 500 words and Tomlinson’s straightforward style and enthusiasm for his subject, comes over in bucketfuls. If you’re looking for an in-depth, warts-and-all guide, you won’t find it here, but Around the World in 80 Tales will give you a taste of the world in a series of enjoyable bite size chunks.
Short story collections are often used to display a writer’s range of skills – whether in dialogue and description, or in their ability to handle a variety of different writing styles and genres. On the other hand, such collections can equally present a handful of the crap at the bottom of the author’s literary barrel, or to put it another way, a place to accumulate all the stuff that won’t fit anywhere else.
The latter option is not one of those books. ‘She Receives the Night’ is a fascinating and completely absorbing collection of brilliantly written and beautifully told stories that show off the author’s talent like the shining star it is. Even if you hate short stories, you’ll find something here that will move you, bring you to tears, or fill you with a nice warm glow at the sheer luck of finding such a wonderful book. My own favourite was ‘With her Ear Pressed to the Earth’, where the simple act of a young man wanting to change his name through marriage, results in an unraveling of his whole relationship. The story had me flicking through the pages with something approaching breathlessness. In truth, the beauty of the language at times left me panting. How can anyone write so damn well?
Okay, I admit it – I’m jealous. Shine on, Mr Earle.
Unearthing bog bodies is not an experience archaeology student Felicity enjoys, but lacking fieldwork practice, she has no choice. Then, when she discovers a corpse that could change the theory of human evolution, things start to get dangerous. Meanwhile on Mars, astronaut Lucas has plenty to occupy his time – while directing colleagues in an operation to terraform the planet, he must also prevent them discovering the real reason for his presence there.
Deborah Jackson has written a giant of a book, in more ways than one – crammed with interesting factual information to back up the plotlines, it occasionally felt a little too ‘heavy’ for what it is. The author even gives the reader a choice on one particular section, saying we can skip it if we like. I did skip it and didn’t feel I’d missed anything important, which might point to it not needing to be there at all.
The scope and background material in the story reminded me a little of Jurassic Park, creating a feeling of being in the presence of an author who really knows what she’s talking about. Nevertheless, while I couldn’t help wonder if the novel might appeal more to science graduates than mere sci-fi fans, Jackson has certainly done her homework in creating a believable and thought-provoking tale.
It’s a long read for sure and I’d have enjoyed it more if I could have finished it in a few days, rather than a few weeks, however, it’s also a fascinating and clever plot with plenty to get your literary and scientific teeth into. One to watch.
When a severed head and a bloody message are left at a security company, NCIS agent Linus Schag finds himself hunting down his closest friend, Bill Butcher. Linking the murder to a missing hoard of cash, Schag can’t believe his former colleague is responsible, but the evidence says otherwise. Caught in the middle of a conspiracy at the highest level, getting to the truth seems impossible. Can Schag untangle this web of corruption and clear Butcher’s name?
This is the second book in the Linus Schag, NCIS Thriller series by Martin Roy Hill. Though I hadn’t read the first one, it works well as a stand alone and had me gripped from the first chapter. Hill’s attention to detail is admirable, and while at times it felt perhaps a little too detailed (and a little distracting), this didn’t undermine the story. The writing is sharp and witty, with well-drawn characters and a believable plot. Given Mr Hill’s work record as a journalist, as well as experiences in the Navy Reserves and California National Guard, it’s also one of those books that had me wondering how much is based on fact, such as the plot-line around the military’s use of anti-malaria drugs. If this stuff is true, it’s pretty scary and if it’s not, it’s a great story.
An all-round good read that’ll keep you hooked until the last page.