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Sleeper 13 by Rob Sinclair

I’m a massive fan of Rob Sinclair’s novels and though I’m a bit late to the party, I finally got round to reading Sleeper 13. I had high expectations about this novel and I wasn’t disappointed. Here’s the blurb:

Smuggled to the Middle East as a child.

Trained as one of the most elite insurgents of his generation.

Forced to do things no one should, for a cause he couldn’t believe in.

But as his brothers were preparing to kill, he was looking for a way out.

Now, on the eve of the deadliest coordinated attacks the world has ever seen, he finally has his chance.

He will break free and hunt down those who made him a monster.

He must draw on all his training to survive.

He is Sleeper 13.

Sleeper 13 is a brilliant, cleverly written thriller which doesn’t hold back on the goriness. At one particular point, I actually thought I might be sick. Now that’s a powerful narrative that can give so much graphic detail that it has such a visceral effect. This book is certainly not for the faint-hearted but nor does it contain gruesome scenes gratuitously. They are strategically placed to show the scale of the depravity of Aydin and his brothers.

As always, Sinclair writes intelligently and this book reflects well the threat of terrorism in our society. 

Sinclair challenges the reader to look at things from the point of view of someone who was sent to a terrorist training camp as a child, and I did feel sympathy for the main character, Aydin, at various points in the story. He makes the wrong decisions at times and uses excess violence at will, but the flashbacks portray the indoctrination of these young boys to be cold, calculated and aggressive, which adds, perhaps, a previously unconsidered perspective.

Sinclair also illuminates the red tape involved in obtaining intelligence on terrorist activity. Rachel Cox is a great character, tenacious and not bound by rules where she feels it would be better to break them to get results. She’s a clever woman who sees the bigger picture where Aydin is concerned, when her boss and even Aydin himself, does not. She’s the perfect counter-balance to Aydin.

It didn’t take me long to read this book and I found it to be a fascinating and enjoyable read. If you like a thriller and you’re not squeamish, I would highly recommend this book. I look forward to Fugitive 13, when that comes out in March.

Deep Dirty Truth by Steph Broadribb (Orenda Books)

One of the best characters I’ve encountered recently is undoubtedly Steph Broadribb’s Lori Anderson. I’ve loved the first two books in this series and I was really excited to read Deep Dirty Truth. Here’s the blurb:

A price on her head. A secret worth dying for. Just 48 hours to expose the truth…

Single-mother bounty hunter Lori Anderson has finally got her family back together, but her new-found happiness is shattered when she’s snatched by the Miami Mob – and they want her dead. Rather than a bullet, they offer her a job: find the Mob’s ‘numbers man’ – Carlton North – who’s in protective custody after being forced to turn federal witness against them. If Lori succeeds, they’ll wipe the slate clean and the price on her head – and those of her family – will be removed. If she fails, they die.

What I love about these novels is that Lori is constantly battling for her daughter’s safety and now the safety of her one-time mentor, father of her daughter, and lover, JT. As a mother myself, Lori’s gritty determination to do whatever it takes to protect her family resonates with me and it’s very easy to champion her from the outset.

I also like that she has street-smarts. She is clever and intuitive. She thinks logically despite the intense pressure that she is often under, which engages the reader to follow her train of thought to the story’s conclusion.

Given that JT is out of action, Broadribb cleverly leaves Lori having to rely on her wits and Federal Agent Alex Monroe, who she doesn’t really trust, but this also forces JT to take care of, and bond with, Dakota, their daughter. When Broadribb takes us to JT’s and Dakota’s story, the reader gets an insight to their lives and their relationships with Lori, and each other. This is a lovely aside to the main action.

Yet again, Steph Broadribb has written a great, engaging novel that I read over two days, only stopping for things like work and sleep! From early on in the novel, it becomes apparent that this series is destined to continue. The next story is beautifully set up at the end of this one, and I cannot wait to read it.

 

The Green Viper by Rob Sinclair (Bloodhound Books)

Reading a James Ryker novel is like being reunited with an old friend. Having read Rob Sinclair’s Enemy series, where James Ryker was Carl Logan prior to his reincarnation, I feel very invested in his story. So, I was very excited to be asked to be part of the blog tour for Ryker’s next journey in The Green Viper.

Here’s the blurb:

I need your help. Call me.

Ex-intelligence agent James Ryker receives a coded message through a secret drop point, a means of communication known only to him and one other person. The problem is, that other person is his ex-boss, Mackie… and he’s already dead.

But the cry for help is real, and it’s a request Ryker can’t refuse.

Travelling to New York alone and without official sanction, Ryker has a single goal in mind, yet even he couldn’t have bargained for the violent world he’s soon embroiled in. Caught in the middle of a spiraling chaos with the FBI on one side, and two warring underworld bosses on the other, Ryker must put all of his skills to the test in order to come out on top, and keep his word.

In a world full of lies and deceit, loyalty is everything, and it’s time for James Ryker to pay his dues.

 

As with all the books in the series, reminders of his former life as Carl Logan pepper the novel, reminding the reader that his past has shaped his future and he will always be inextricably linked with the Joint Intelligence Agency, which is a blessing and a curse in equal measure. James Ryker is a fiercely loyal and determined character who will stop at nothing to succeed in his goal.

Sinclair is undoubtedly on top form with his latest James Ryker outing. As with his other novels, he isn’t afraid to make character choices that shock the reader and he doesn’t hold back on the graphic images when he describes the violence that his characters inflict, further enhancing his narrative. Set in New York, Sinclair again uses the location he sets the action in to bring an added character to the novel to great effect.

The Green Viper is a fantastic read and I don’t expect anything less when I pick up a Rob Sinclair novel. It’s great to pick up a book, knowing beforehand that you are in for a treat, and that’s a given with the James Ryker series. I look forward to the next one!

Good Samaritans by Will Carver (Orenda Books)

It’s a rare occurrence that a novel can provide you with so many shocks from cover to cover that you feel like you’ve run a marathon by the time you get to the end. When I started reading Good Samaritans by Will Carver, I wasn’t expecting to have that kind of experience. How wrong I was!

Here’s the blurb:

One crossed wire, three dead bodies and six bottles of bleach.

Seth Beauman can’t sleep. He stays up late, calling strangers from his phonebook, hoping to make a connection, while his wife, Maeve, sleeps upstairs. A crossed wire finds a suicidal Hadley Serf on the phone to Seth, thinking she is talking to The Samaritans. But a seemingly harmless, late-night hobby turns into something more for Seth and for Hadley, and soon their late-night talks are turning into day-time meet-ups. And then this dysfunctional love story turns into something altogether darker, when Seth brings Hadley home… And someone is watching… Dark, sexy, dangerous and wildly readable, Good Samaritans marks the scorching return of one of crime fiction’s most exceptional voices.

What struck me about this novel was that it has a relatively slow build up, yet it had the power to sucker-punch you multiple times throughout. Reading this on the bus to work, I got some very strange looks at certain points when an audible gasp of shock at the turn of events involuntarily escaped from me. What also struck me is how skilled an author Will Carver is to be able to lull the reader this way and that way, then throw everything you thought was happening into the air. Just when I thought I had it worked out, I really didn’t.

Carver’s writing style perfectly depicts the lives of his characters to create an ideal response from the reader. Often, short, staccato sentences build up the tension and portray the emotions of the characters in a direct and detached way. He has multiple narrators throughout; the characters tell their own story and there is a third person narrator to direct the reader through each character’s version of events. This further redirects the reader into a delicious trap of thinking one thing is happening, when in fact what is really happening is shockingly different.

Undoubtedly a dark novel, it intrigues the reader throughout and even when you reach the end, you are in a state of shock as even the ending doesn’t take the path you would expect. This novel is simply brilliant and if I could sum my final reaction up in one word, it would be “wow”! I’ve waxed lyrical about the brilliance of the team at Orenda Books for finding books that offer something extra special that you rarely find elsewhere, and with Good Samaritans, Orenda has done it again. Good Samaritans is definitely going on my top books of 2018 list and I will be recommending it to anyone who’ll listen, as it is a fictional masterpiece.

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Cold Winter Sun by Tony J. Forder (Bloodhound Books)

Cold Winter Sun by Tony J Forder was one of those novels that had me intrigued  from the minute I read the blurb. In these situations, it can one of two ways: you’ll be sorely disappointed because it hasn’t lived up to the hype, or thoroughly satisfied because it lived up to the promise offered by the blurb.

Here’s the blurb that got me so enthusiastic about reading this novel:

A missing man. A determined hunter. A deadly case.

When Mike Lynch is contacted by his ex-wife about the missing nephew of her new husband, he offers to help find the young man with the help of his friend Terry Cochran.

Arriving in LA to try and track down the young man, the pair are immediately torn away when the missing man’s car shows up, abandoned on the side of a deserted road in New Mexico.

When two fake police officers cross their path, Terry and Mike know there is more to the case than meets the eye, and soon they find themselves asking exactly who it is they are really looking for…

Short and sweet, but intriguing nonetheless.

Now, whilst this novel is referred to as a standalone, this is not the first novel that these characters have appeared in. Forder wrote Scream Blue Murder as a standalone but decided to write a sequel before the first book was published. It certainly works well as a standalone and where reference is made to these character’s past lives, Forder gives a concise summary so the reader has enough information to continue reading.

Mike Lynch is a brilliantly written character. Forder uses this character to portray what life is like as a civilian after being in the forces, for better or worse. Undoubtedly troubled by what he has experienced, but at the same time, highly skilled in combat with impressive instincts, Mike is incredibly likeable, as is his silent but deadly friend, Terry. As a team, they are formidable, and though they don’t always agree with each other, they make a great partnership.

The use of inhabitable landscape features heavily in this novel. Initially Mike is camping in snow-covered Scotland, then he is summoned to investigate in the barren New Mexico desert landscape, where, during his time there, it snows. His surroundings act as an additional barrier to overcome in order to find his ex-wife’s husband’s nephew.

Forder has written a really enjoyable novel. The blurb delivered its promise, and then some. I am definitely going to be reading Scream Blue Murder, as I am keen to learn the back story to these characters in more detail. I can highly recommend this novel and if Forder decides to bring these characters back, I’ll be adding it to my TBR list straight away.

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