Saturday, 6 April 2013

Modern Suburbia by Chris Merlo

This book is a fictional commentary on the shady underdoings of a modern, built up, suburban town somewhere in America.

The storyline itself is rather intriguing, with the author trying to show us that he can create a plausible crime/suspense novel based mainly in a town that, from the outside, seems quiet and normal. Obviously, that's not going to hold true though, as otherwise there wouldn't really be much of a story to write about.

Nathan is a hired transporter of not completely legal goods whom we first meet as he's being pulled over by a traffic officer for speeding. From there it just gets worse for Nathan and the people he's transporting for as he's dragged to jail and and fails to make the meet-up time.

As we are introduced to crooked fat cats, international terrorists and amazingly talented computer hackers you begin to see that no town is truly peaceful as Teal County's dirty little secrets are dragged into the light.

I thought the idea and storyline behind this novel were well thought out and rather intriguing. Unfortunately what could've been a good novel was let down into a mediocre one by the way it all came across. The style of setting the plot out to the reader seemed a bit too hurried to me and I felt I was being force fed too much description where it wasn't needed and not enough where I thought it was. It was as if Merlo was attempting to show he could be mysterious and lead the reader on but at the same time not lose your attention but it wasn't gone about in a way that was entirely plausible.

I almost feel that the author has some sort of vendetta against all law enforcement as there wasn't a single member of the force or jail system that wasn't a brute with a love for dishing out violence. Maybe I live a life too much on the right side of the law or in the wrong country to see that every police officer and jail guard has it out for lawbreakers and will find any excuse to beat them to a bloody pulp. It would be fine if it were just the odd one or two but making it the entire lot just made it too unbelievable for me.

The characters themselves are an interesting bunch, policemen notwithstanding, as they seem to show villainy in all walks of life, from the druggie girl (who, of course, comes from a broken home and is used to using her good looks) to the main character Nathan, who takes it upon himself to right a few wrongs in his own way and the big fat cat with his nice little cover of some corporate (large in a plush office) desk jockey. Mix in the FBI and the German Terrorist (sorry ladies, not Alan Rickman style) and it will lead to some explosive action and even a well written car chase.

This was an okay read that I was wishing would be good. I loved the idea and some of the scenes were brilliant. Unfortunately there were other moments where you'd have a scene interrupted for the next two paragraphs with a new character's life story (even in a sex scene?!) and it was not assumed that the reader could make their own conclusions but instead I felt as if I was being force fed exactly what I should think about a person. I do think there is such a thing as too much information if it keeps being beaten into you to hate a person or that someone is really rich (to describe every scene down to the last plush fibre of a carpet everytime said fat cat is in a room is a bit much, I get the hint).

The plot twists are well planned out, however. These do not suffer from information overload but are slowly eked out to keep you wondering and reading. To be honest I loved the book for its potential and would read a Chris Merlo novel again in the hope that these first time book issues have been ironed out as it's definitely worth keeping an eye on this Chris Merlo fellow.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Bob Moore: Hostile Territory by Tom Andry

He's back! After the chaos of his last adventure Bob Moore, PI, is back in the saddle, so to speak.

I will state here that if you haven't read the previous books then there will be mentions of plot spoilers ahead. Also, why are you skipping to the third book in the series? Seriously, who does that?

Still reeling after his previous adventure it appears at first that our flawed private investigator has found his niche working undercover. The only issue being a slight lack in his accounting skills. However, we should all know by now that nothing is ever as simple as it should be. With the tragedy of Nineteen still on his mind, his new leg and feet being constant reminders of his reasons for hating Supers and an unexpected visit from the United State's Vice President with an offer that he could happily turn down you wonder if this poor man really needs to have people stalking him as well? He really does attract trouble and Mind is no help with her hilariously sarcastic responses and almost constant nagging.

With two ambassadors disappearing from the Supers' newest annoyance to Bob, the Super City, he is tasked with finding out what happened and to do so he must pose as the third US Ambassador. Obviously he's the poster boy for public relations and the like. Put a politician from every country in the world together and there will be squabbles, alliances and behind closed doors pacts made and that is what Bob has been thrown into. Now remember that this is a guy who has annoyed pretty much all the powerful Supers that are left and he's now on a floating city full of them!

You'd think for someone like Bob this would be enough to have him emptying the not so mini mini-bar but no, wait! There's more. Let's just throw in the mere idea of someone from his past that isn't his ex-wife and watch him squirm. Although the squirming around his ex-wife is pretty fun to watch anyway. This is definitely a hint to grab some popcorn and pull up a chair.

Andry has done a brilliant job of pulling together influences from popular culture and blending it with his own unique creativity to really sell the believability of this world and it's inhabitants. The idea of a superhero or main character of a storyline being untouchable was discarded a long time ago and Mr Andry has been sure to keep it in the history books. You have an alcohol dependent, overweight main character, the females leads will never be someone you'll want to mess with or imagine as damsels in distress and, would you believe it, even the secondary characters feel fleshed out and cared for. The Supers are never to be considered as safe, not in these books, and to be the spectator as they realise that is not fun or uplifting but it sure as heck keeps you on the edge of your seat.

I thoroughly enjoyed this series, despite the shortness of the books (quality over quantity), and it's clear that there is a lot of research done to make some of the scenarios more believable (not so much believing I'll see anyone fly past my window anytime soon mind). There are enough plot twists to make you wonder and question your own feelings towards certain characters and, I'll be honest, I even put the book down and refused to believe what I was reading at one point.

I recommend this as a must read for those who like action, adventure and just a bit of an exciting romp through a fantastical world not completely dissimilar from ours when it all boils down to basics.

For Tom Andry's website go here:

To buy this book, Kindle edition, click here or for the UK price without working out the exchange rate yourself go here .
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Seriously, use these links and buy this eBook!!