“Slaughterhouse Blues” by Nick Kolkowski is definitely an in your face book with two character, Bill and Fiona, good-bad guys, not the bad-bad guys that they take on in an all to brief effort to extract a fortune of gold, a sort of revenge reward for another deal gone bad. And that is the tone and background of the story—past bad deals gone wrong, narrow escapes in the here and now, and some improbable poundings that would have had Rocky Balboa throwing in the towel. It’s a good story. I like Fiona, but for the life of me, I can’t see why she schleps around with Bill. It’s a good story, not great, with a more or less single focus after the odd forays in the beginning. One which was background; one that I knew was a trap to begin with. Still, it was written well and would be worth a lukewarm 4 rating if that was the end of the story.
But…I’m getting more into the story and at 62% of the way through the e-reader, the story just ends. Then comes a lengthy promotional pitch. And then comes the teasers for not one, not two, but three other books. I felt suckered. The whole package is now a deflated 3.
I asked for suggestions, and I got “The Drowning.” I liked the story, but I felt after the inciting incident, it kind of muddled along for a while. And I was not prepared for all the Point-of-View (POV) characters. There were, at least, eleven in the story, and some were one and done minor characters. The saving grace was that they were fleshed out as real-world people you could identify with and understand. Still, I feel the book was a bit bloated, and like the initial investigation into the disappearance of Magnus, waffling for direction early on. I also wanted to scream investigative tips to the supposedly competent cops.
On the plus side, it was an engaging plot, with satisfying twists. The main characters had to deal with real world problems. Superman didn’t live in the area where the story took place. I liked that. The second half of the book came rushing at you like a runaway train toward a conclusion that was somewhat shocking. Hitchcock would have made this into a great movie. The tragic tagged-on ending seemed superfluous, and I’m not sure that I understand what the author’s intent was in doing it…sales pitch for the next book? Several of the chapter or scene endings were weak with the character suggesting they understand something without giving us the benefit of connecting the dots. Still, this is a top-notch mystery, but I can’t quite slap a five rating on it, but it is surely a top-shelf four star book.
“Nightblind” is an enjoyable read about the shooting (and eventual murder, no spoiler here) of a police inspector and the efforts of his subordinate to find the shooter. It is somewhat different in that there are six POVs (points of view) through which the imperfect lives of some of the people involved are told. The author dropped a number of clues along the way which are used to wrap up the case in an Agatha Christie type of inscrutable logic manner. Icelandic investigations are lax compared to most American investigations, but there is a sense it might be more a case of big city versus small town investigative techniques. While I enjoyed the intricacies of the personal stories of the characters involved, there are times when I wondered, “well what does that have to do with the crime?” But in the end, understanding the nature of people is important on some level to get behind Police Office Ari Thor Arason and his investigation. Somewhat unique. A solid four from me.
Luke, I am your Lover
Full Disclosure. I purchased the book to support where the proceeds would be going—animal rescue. I’m not a reader of most love or paranormal stories, and have a hefty skepticism regarding ghosts. However, if you are into paranormal romance, this is a five-star book for you. I did find the protagonist, Tania, a bit too reluctant (dense) to accept the realities (real and paranormal) of what was happening around her. Her foot-dragging made the story grind a bit for me in places. The paranormal science was well done and explained nicely what Tania believed was happening as she was pulled ever deeper into her paranormal research, whether it be for research or her own personal survival. The ending, which I could see coming from early on, did stretch the bonds of the suspension-of-disbelief for me. All-in-all, well done without the messiness of some self-published books. A sold four from me.