Monday, June 12, 2017

A Tale of Two Books

This past week I read two books.  Both books were in the 'mystery thriller' genre.  Both books were written by authors whose books I always read.  One is a very well known name, the other not so much.  Both write novels with recurring main characters.  Both of these books take place in Chicago, one of my favorite cities.  My reason for writing this post?  The book by the author who I have denigrated in the past is a five star book, IMO.  The other book?  Ugh!  So, where should I start?  How about with the bad?

Don't get me wrong.  The book itself is not bad.  It just has a character whom I have decided I don't like.  As I said in my Goodreads review, if I had a gun, I'd shoot him myself.  And after reading eleven novels by the author, this was truly a disappointment for me.  The author is Michigan native Steve Hamilton.  I have really enjoyed the Alex McKnight series of books which take place for the most part in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  I've even enjoyed the stand alone novels.  But last year Hamilton introduced us to Nick Mason, a hood being released from prison and under the control of a mob leader he met while incarcerated.  He is now an 'angel of death', doing the bidding of said bad guy.

He does it under the threat of his ex-wife and daughter being killed if he does not do the bidding of the boss.  But, I have little empathy for someone who becomes a cold-killer.  And for a petty thief, the guy seems to have acquired some extraordinary skills in prison, ala 007.  I just wish the author followed the title of the book, Exit Strategy, and exited from this series.  Oh, and did I mention it is one of those books where when you get to the last page you know there is still more to come???  I hate that!

Now, for the five star book.  Several weeks ago I read 'The Black Book' by Ian Rankin, part of my attempt to read all of Rankin's novels this year.  So, it was rather surprising to see that I now had a James Patterson book called 'The Black Book' waiting at the library for me to pick up.

I have read nearly all of Patterson's books going all the way back to 'Along Came a Spider' in 1993.  A friend mentioned it to me and I was hooked.  And I stayed interested for quite some time.  And then not so much.  First I was turned off by the personal stuff in Alex Cross's life.  Then the stories just got formulaic.  Now I do not even bother.  When he published a book called 'Kill Alex Cross', I thought it was a good idea.

I still have Patterson on my list of favorite authors, but I kinda groaned when I saw another book.  I still enjoy the Women's Murder Club series.  But lately I find that I can read a Patterson book in as little as one hour.  That is because I get turned off in the first few chapters, read the beginning and end of paragraphs in the following chapters, read the end of the book and call it a day.  That happened with the last 'Private' novel I read.

Nevertheless, I went and picked up the book.  When I sat down to read it I could not put it down.  The book is written in collaboration with David Ellis.  (And I think it is great that Patterson writes with relatively unknown authors as they are pretty well assured a best seller with Patterson's name on the cover.)

The book starts in the present and then does a flashback to the past, and then present, past....you get the idea.  It was very good in my opinion and surely worthy of every minute I spent reading it.  I did not see the end coming, though someone online said it was obvious.  Not for me, and this is the genre I am most familiar with.  We have the Chicago Police with all its warts exposed.  There is something sinister going on, but who are the real bad guys?  Or girls?  It kept me guessing and had a satisfying ending.  I gave it five stars.

9 comments:

  1. I gave up on Patterson years ago, as you said, too formulaic. Haven't heard of the other author.

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    1. I'd definitely give this one a try.

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  2. I will try to read this and get back into Patterson books. Appreciate your reviews!!!

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  3. Never read any although the Alex Cross character sounds familiar.

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  4. I'll have to check out Steve Hamilton. Have you read anything by Jim Harrison, who also writes a lot of fiction set in the UP?

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    1. That name is new to me. I'll have to check him out. Thanks.

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    2. Legends of the Fall. I saw the movie.

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  5. I went to a question and answer session with Ian Rankin last year in Dubai. Interesting man particularly when talking about Rebus. My favourite crime writer however is Peter James. I haven't read a Patterson for years.

    Click to visit Keith's Ramblings

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    1. I'll have to put James on my author list. I heard about Rankin in Alexander McCall Smith's Bertie books. I am going to hear Daniel Silva speak next month at a township venue. Our library is bringing him in.

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