Book Review: ‘Split Second’ by David Baldacci

Title: Split Second
Author: David Baldacci
Genre: Crime/Thriller

Storyline: Guarding a radical political candidate, Secret Service agent Sean King is distracted long enough to allow for an assassin to kill the protectee. Several years later fast rising Secret Agent, Michelle Maxwell, is lead agent for a candidate who is kidnapped. When dead bodies start turning up to unravel Kings new life, the two disgraced agents join forces to unravel the web of lies, murder and vengeance.

Review: This is the first of the King & Maxwell series of books although not the first that I’ve read and it’s always interesting to see how a story begins. I realise a lot of people will have started here and moved through the series but I tend to pick books up when I see them on offer and give them a try so can’t always guarantee going 1.2.3 😉

Baldacci is a great storyteller, writing in a smooth and easy manner that means your focus is on the characters and the plot rather than deciphering the overly-clever style that some authors can use. He’s also an author who doesn’t resort to sex and swearing to sell the story – I struggle when a book is full of F-bombs for no reason. Seriously, if I met people who swore as much as some of the characters in some books I would probably choose to go deaf voluntarily!

There are twists and turns aplenty in this book, and you are never fully sure who to trust or where to focus and this makes for a really enjoyable ride.

I’ve now read 3 books by Baldacci and have to say that his books are definitely going to be a permanent feature of my bookcases from now on. 🙂

Score: 4.5/5

Book Review: ‘Killing Hour’ by Andrew Gross

Title: Killing Hour
Author: Andrew Gross
Genre: Crime/Thriller

Storyline: After his troubled nephew is found to have committed suicide Dr Jay Handler is drawn in to a legacy of murder, torture, manipulation and betrayal – plus buried secrets in his brothers past. Convincing anyone that there was more to this than meets the eye pushes him to the edge of sanity and threatens everything, and everyone, he loves. Can he piece it all together, is there a deeper and darker truth, and just how far back does all this go?

Review: This is the fifth book from the bestselling author, and the third that I have read (you can read my review of ‘The Blue Zone’ here) – and it’s always interesting to see how an author develops, especially after having co-written with a prominent author such as James Patterson. Andrew Gross is definitely not a Patterson clone and writes with a very fluid and addictive style. One of the joys with Patterson novels is that I can’t put them down and I just devour them, this is proving to be very true here.

With a tragic foundation in the real-life death of his bi-polar nephew the author draws us into a tangle of lies, deceit, murder and the lasting effects of a long-dead cult. You can’t take anything for granted and there are surprises all the way to the last page of the book.

The characters are well-rounded and you are drawn in very quickly, finding yourself caring about Jay and his family whilst also despising and cringing away from the odious cult leader. It’s this depth of character that really provides the flesh and identity for the skeleton of the story, and it’s this emotive connection that marks Gross out as a real standout talent in the ever-crowded genre (not that I’m complaining about the depth and variety of authors that are out there at the moment – it gives a load of variety and ensures that there are always new ideas and new stories to read)

The flow of the story is at a pleasantly fast pace, not too fast to rush by and give no detail but avoiding the slow, procedural, drudge that some authors can slip into as they flood you with more detail than is needed. The twists and turns are a mix of the anticipated, the expected and the complete shock. If it were possible to be made to jump whilst reading a book then there would definitely be some moments in this book.

If you are a fan of Deaver, Patterson et al then you will find this an easy book to get into – but a hard book to put down.

Score: 4.5/5

Book Review: ‘Damaged’ by Alex Kava

Title: Damaged
Author: Alex Kava
Genre: Crime/Thriller

Storyline: A floating box of body parts, an approaching category 5 hurricane and a fatal mystery outbreak at a naval medical facility lead to a rollercoaster of a ride for FBI Profiler Maggie O’Dell as she gets involved with the Pensacola Coastguard in working out where the body parts came from. Her “friend” Col. Benjamin Platt in the meantime is also deployed, without her knowledge, to the Pensacola Naval facility to investigate the mysterious deaths of multiple patients who are all succumbing to an unknown virus.

With twists, turns and interweaving storylines the clock is ticking…

Review: It’s always interesting picking up a new author – well, new to me anyway. Having read loads of different crime and thriller books, from a good variety of authors, I had decided to try out another writer to see what they were like (always on the lookout for more books to stuff my shelves with 🙂 )

Damaged was a strange book in that the tagline on the cover never really comes to the fore, leaving you expecting something that doesn’t materialise. You are always aware that the three main strands, four if you include the hurricane, are going to collide at some point and this can feel a bit frustrating as I found myself almost shouting at the book because the obvious seemed to be overlooked far too often.

I don’t want to come over as being down on this book, but it’d be a lie if I didn’t express disappointment. There’s no real profiling involved, which was something that I was looking forward to, and the first 2/3’s feels drawn out with the final 1/3 feeling rushed and needing more room to breathe. In fact the final page came as a complete shock as it did feel as though Kava had set herself a page target, hit it, and stopped dead.

In a genre that is packed full of knowledgeable, tense, and well-written books this is an average story and as a result it was a disappointment. Would I buy more of her books? Sure, so long as they are in the bargain bins – I certainly wouldn’t go out of my way to buy them otherwise.

Score: 3/5

P.S. Yeah, I know it’s been a LONG time since I last reviewed a book or anything but I thought I’d give it another shot and expand to cover music, movies and stuff as the mood takes me. Especially as I am now a music reviewer for Cross Rhythms. 😉