Girl-on-Train-Review

As the HOT book right now I was hesitant to read this in the midst of the current fervor, but since I need to know what people are reading, I acquiesced. This is a solid thriller/mystery that lives up to and even surpasses the comparisons to the previous “flavor of the month” thriller, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

What I liked most about The Girl on the Train is the characters and their development. The novel is told mostly from the point-of-view of Rachel, an out-of-work alcoholic whose life has been spinning out of control since her and her ex-husband began having problems (they eventually divorced after he cheated on her). But there are other parts told by two minor characters, Anna and Megan, which gives a deeper insight into not only other characters, but other sides of Rachel. After Megan goes missing, we not only get Rachel’s side of the story, but we hear from Megan herself in chapters that flash back to the time before she vanished. And like Gone Girl, we are left wondering what happened to Megan, or if anything happened to her at all.

Hawkins does a fantastic job of setting the characters up. Rachel’s downward spiral is convincing and seemingly accurate. The ending, though, does lack some intensity (trying to give a thriller a satisfying end is not an easy task), but overall I feel this is a worthwhile read. Is it worth all of the hubbub it’s getting? Well, considering SOME of the books out there, anytime a well-written, entertaining book does well, it’s justified. And this one is both well-written and entertaining enough for any suspense reader.

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Cuckoo-Review

Because of my inquisitive nature (I guess), I’m always suspicious of bestselling authors attempting to “try something new” under an alias. Romance novelist Nora Roberts writes crime as J.D. Robb. Really? Not making enough money as Nora Roberts? Did Stephen King really have to become Richard Bachman to prove his worth as an author?

Well, when the latest foray into this anonymous world hit book shelves, I was even more suspicious. This time, it was children’s scribe, Harry Potter inventor and millionaire extraordinaire J.K. Rowling writing crime fiction (adult crime fiction, no less) as Robert Galbraith. Rowling has recently (about a year before The Cuckoo’s Calling came out) made a splash in adult fiction with A Casual Vacancy, which was successful. So why use a pseudonym now? Why use a pseudonym at all? And why a male pseudonym?

As I was contemplating all of these questions, basically trying to come up with an excuse NOT to read this book, I started it. I like crime fiction and moderately enjoyed the writing style of Casual Vacancy (though the story there did not hold my interest), so I thought, what the heck?

And guess what? Surprise, surprise – I loved it. Rowling – I mean Galbraith – really shows off her writing chops with this highly engaging, thrilling tale of fashion and celebrities. Her main character, Cormoran Strike, is a character right out of the pages of Dashiell Hammett – hard-nosed, no-nonsense and crusty with a soft streak. Strike, just like Sam Spade, is a PI, but Strike is down-and-out…almost. He takes a case involving the suspicious death of a supermodel, and he not only sees a chance to revitalize his career, but also a chance to gain some high-profile (i.e. RICH) clients. But the case leads Strike places he never thought it would. A must read for crime fiction fans!

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Wanted-Man-Review

Spy thriller author John le Carre writes complicated, twisted tales of suspense and covert ops. In the 60s he wrote about the Cold War – now it’s the Middle East. First let’s go over some of le Carre’s past film adaptations: most recently Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011), The Constant Gardener (2005), The Tailor of Panama (2001) and The Spy Who Came In From the Cold (1965). All of these films have one thing in common: they are dry and very confusing, at least to me.

Now let’s look at A Most Wanted Man, also based on a le Carre book. This film is fast-paced and filled with intensity and action, but easy to follow. Is it le Carre’s novel writing that has gotten less muddled and involved? Well, maybe. Is it because we, as an audience, are more prepared for convoluted plots, with more and more spy action thrillers being made (The Bourne series, the recent Bond movies, etc.)? Could be, but I think it has more to do with how the book is adapted…how expert the screenwriter is at adapting the twists and turns on the screen.

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true-detective

One of the most talked about new TV shows of 2013 had to be True Detective, HBO’s crime/buddy drama set in backwater Louisiana.

One reason it was so popular is that HBO has the magic touch when it comes to dramas (The Sopranos, Game of Thrones, etc.). Another reason is the cast – two actors (Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson) star in it, both of whom have normally stuck to feature film roles, especially McConaughey, who in 2013 was having a year actors only dream of, culminating in a Best Actor Oscar for his role in Dallas Buyers Club.

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bitterriver

Keller’s second mystery set in Acker’s Gap, West Virginia and featuring prosecutor Bell Elkins is ALMOST as strong as the first, A Killing in the Hills (2012).

I loved Keller’s first Elkins outing (it was one of the most compelling American mysteries I had read in a while), so I was very excited by the prospect of another harrowing suspense tale. Although it’s not as strong as the first, this story is still intense – a real page-turner. This time, just as Elkins is put in charge of prosecuting the case of a murdered teenager found in the river, two more devastating events happen in Acker’s Gap…a sniper shoots up the courthouse and there is an explosion at the popular diner in town. Elkins pursues the case in her usual persistent way, but this time, her life comes under threat and the case has issues hitting too close to home, literally.

The best part of this book, as it was with A Killing in the Hills, is the well-constructed plot, fully-realized characters and excellent, top-notch writing. Keller, a journalist by trade who earned a well-deserved Pulitzer Prize for her feature writing in the Chicago Tribune, has found a second trade: crime novelist. I cannot wait for the next Elkins book!

The book is available for check out at the Niles Public Library.

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dramas3

Whereas all procedural shows are close ended episodes, serial dramas are the complete opposite. A show with an ongoing storyline where not all loose ends are tied up in a neat little bow by episode’s end. In order to sustain the longevity of the show, each episode ends in a cliffhanger and character arcs and multiple subplots take time to develop over the course of half (generally 12 or 13 episodes) or a full season (22-24 episodes). A binge viewing is recommended in order to fully comprehend the story as a whole. This type of TV requires viewers to watch the show from the very beginning in order to understand what is happening. If you missed an episode, it is advisable to view the previous episode before catching the newest one. To that end, this is what I refer to as appointment television.

Below is a list of SOME of the RECOMMENDED popular dramas available at the Niles Library!

24 (Though the 9th season has yet to be released on DVD, you can catch all previous 8 seasons here).

Set in real time, this popular action drama follows the adventures of counter-terrorist agent, Jack Bauer, as he thwarts terrorist attacks both foreign and domestic over the course of a day. If you enjoy intriguing mysteries, edgy and spectacular action, and high stakes drama, you will thoroughly enjoy this show! The twists and turns are a mile a minute.

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nikita

If you have followed this blog series up to this point, then you have probably wondered what that one show was that was canceled in December. It’s time for the reveal…And that 2nd spot belongs to NIKITA!

This sleek and action-packed thriller had it all: Attractive characters, engaging plots (including the subplots), a well thought out and densely plotted seasonal arcs, and lastly, the action itself.

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