Category Archives: Dutton

Review: Six Years by Harlan Coben

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult (March 19, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 0525953485
  • Source: Publisher

Six years ago, Jake Fisher watched his soul-mate, Natalie, marry another man. At her wedding, Natalie made Jake promise never to contact her or her new husband, Todd, again. Jake is so in love with Natalie that he makes this promise.  Six years later, Todd’s murder makes that nearly impossible. Jake, now a college professor,  begins to look into Todd’s murder, discovering that he wasn’t, in fact, married to Natalie but to someone else, giving another woman two children. Soon, Jake’s life and the past six years begin to unravel, people from his and Natalie’s past refusing to acknowledge that they knew him. Jake’s search for Natalie intensifies, unveiling deadly secrets that go back decades. His involvement puts his life, and Natalie’s, at risk from people who have connections that are both illegal and quite deadly.

In Six Years, Coben creates an incredibly intense and well-crafted thriller. The intrigue and fast pacing of the storyline begin within the first several pages, culminating into an incredibly dramatic ending. Coben is incredibly skilled at creating a complex thriller that unveils subplots and story-lines as the reader combs through the pages. The secrets he reveals are well-paced, only providing readers with just enough to keep their attention throughout the novel, providing multi-layered twists and turns that at first seem completely implausible but all build up and connect at the end.

As with his previous novels, Coben takes a seemingly ordinary bordering on boring, character and puts him in the most imaginative of circumstances. The story is told by the point of view of Jake, so readers are given a tremendous amount of information about his character. We not only witness life through his eyes, but also experience his emotions and experiences. The reader is provided with clues and answers as they are revealed to Jake, adding to the overall intensity of this thriller. Jake is a man still healing from losing the love of his life to another man, still reeling from the pain and devastation that brought him. This fuels his passion in his search for Natalie and revealing a well-executed plan that provides a new life to those individuals involved in high risk, deadly situations.

Coben also creates a pretty unique and well-rounded set of secondary characters. His humor shines through in Jake’s interaction with these individuals, adding a bit of snark and hilarity to the mix. While elements of the plot are similar to his other books (namely a relatively normal individual receives some sort of communication that reveals devastating secrets about the woman he loves), long-time fans of Coben’s work will still be rewarded with this truly dynamic thriller. Highly recommended!

*Update: Actor Hugh Jackman will play the role of Jake in the movie adaptation of Six Years. *Swoons*

Review: One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper

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  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult (August 21, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0525952365
  • Source: Publisher

Drew Silver, once the drummer for a one-hit wonder of a band, now makes his living playing at weddings. Middle aged, he lives in an depressing apartment complex made up of other divorced men. His teenage daughter, Casey, despises him. He was the first to learn she was pregnant for he is the last one she is worried about disappointing. His ex-wife, Denise, is about to remarry, to a man Silver despises. All in all, Silver’s life sucks.

Then Silver learns he is dying…well, sort of. He has a tear in his aorta that causes him to experience a number of little strokes. Emergency surgery can repair this tear but Silver has no interest in it; why go through all the effort when he has no interest in continuing his life? Instead, he plans to continue living just as he had, waiting for the stroke that ends it all. He has good intentions, really.

His decision shocks his family, his daughter so concerned about his mental stability that she moves in with him. Silver embarks upon a “to-do” list of sorts, things he must do before he dies, including being a better man, a better father, to truly fall in love. Is it possible to do all of these things before he dies?

Don’t let this summary make this book sound like a dark and depressing novel, for it’s the complete opposite. Tropper does a tremendous job of capturing the dull and depressing life of a middle-age man, but in a truly genuine manner. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but Tropper uses a great deal of humor to express the tragedy that has fallen upon Silver. The humor is witty, sometimes dark and sometimes a bit..crass, but it is so expertly balanced with spans of thoughtful moments in which Silver recounts the errors he made in the past.

Additionally, while the overall outcome is extremely predictable, it is the journey that Silver takes, and the reader alongside him, that makes the experience worthwhile. Silver goes from an incredibly crass, selfish and lonely man to a truly remarkable one. The path he takes on this journey is full of wrong turns, dead ends, etc., making the end result truly spectacular.

Silver’s character is one that, despite his many, many, many faults, you can’t help but sympathize with. He’s crass, annoying, belligerent…frankly, he’s an ass. That said, he’s an incredibly endearing ass…one that will make every reader look back and be thankful for the life they’ve been given.

This is one of those books that will have you laughing one moment, tears rolling down your cheeks the next. A truly phenomenal novel-highly recommended.

 

Review: Ransom River by Meg Gardiner

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult (July 5, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0525952853
  • Source: Publisher

Rory Mackenzie has reluctantly returned to her hometown of Ransom River, California, now unemployed. She’s now serving as a juror in a high-profile murder case: two policemen are accused of shooting and killing an intruder in cold blood. Two men charge into the courtroom, taking everyone hostage. Before the long ordeal ends, Rory soon realizes that she was the intended “victim” of the attack on the courtroom, the attackers staging the takeover to kidnap her alone. Unfortunately, the police see a completely different story playing out, assuming that Rory was somehow involved in the attack.

The scene in the courtroom is just the start of a series of violent acts in the seemingly quite town of Ransom River, Rory’s family the center of all of the attention. Grigor Mirkovic, the father of the murder victim at the trial, uses his connections in organized crime to stalk and terrorize Rory and her family. The drama continues inside Rory’s family circle: Boone and Nerissa, Rory’s cousins and the children of her long-missing uncle, Lee, torment Rory with malicious threats and false accusations about her past.  The only individual standing behind Rory is Seth, her ex-boyfriend and former cop who disappeared suddenly years ago. Rory isn’t exactly thrilled or comfortable with this, but she’s running out of options. She must get to the root of decades of dark, family secrets and lies if she’s going to be able to clear her name.

Gardiner weaves an intricate yet exhilarating mystery in Ransom River. Like many small towns, Ransom River is full of deep, dark secrets. Rory is shocked to realize that she is the center of many of these, stunned that her family has kept her in the dark all these years.  Despite being an extremely flawed character, Rory is an incredibly strong-willed, determined heroine. It seems this is a case of the world vs. Rory and I found myself rooting for her, desperate to see her persevere.

Admittedly, as I watched the numerous story lines and subplots reveal themselves, I questioned the author’s ability to weave them all together. That uncertainty was unfounded, for Gardiner ties all of the weaving and winding story lines together to form a completely surprising conclusion.

Looking for a taut, chilling mystery to fill your weekend? Ransom River is the book for you. Highly recommended.

Review: Children of Paranoia by Trevor Shane

  • Hardcover:384 pages
  • Publisher:Dutton Adult (September 8, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 0525952373
  • Source: Publisher

ALL WARS HAVE RULES

Rule Number One: No killing innocent bystanders.

Rule Number Two: No killing anyone under the age of eighteen.

BREAK THE RULES, BECOME THE TARGET

Since  turning eighteen, Joseph has been fighting a war he’s not certain he believes in, assassinating people he has been told are on the other side.  Not everyone is a soldier in the War; thousands of unsuspecting individuals go on with their everyday lives.

Those that are to become soldiers in the war have lost family members to the war, growing up experience the heartache of death early on.  But it’s not until they near the age of adulthood that they become aware of their fate. They don’t know know the identity of their enemy either, it could be a random stranger walking down the street.  From the age of eighteen on, their lives are in constant danger.

Killing people is the only life Joe knows, that is, until a job goes very wrong and he is sent away on a dangerous assignment as punishment.  He falls in love, his priorities and feelings about the war forever changing.  The only way to have a life outside the War is to escape it, becoming a target of those he’s worked alongside for years.

My desire to read Children of Paranoia began months ago when I began receiving postcards for the book. Each postcard listed one of the rules listed above.  They grabbed my interest from the start, I was left wondering, though, what my mailman thought. 

Children of Paranoia didn’t fail to live up to my expectations. The pacing of this debut thriller literally starts within the first few pages and continues throughout the entire book.  What I appreciated about this book is the social commentary; the world within Children of Paranoia could just as easily be the world we live in now. Our country always seems to be fighting one war or another.

One can’t help but feel sympathy for Joe’s character. Yes, he’s a cold-blooded assassin, but he has a heart as well. For years he’s been told to kill, sometimes individuals who have a potential for being the enemy, but haven’t committed an act of war yet.  He has no say in where he goes or what he does, he’s at the mercy of faceless voices, directing him where to go and whom to kill.

I’m excited that this is the first book in a trilogy; I want to learn more about the cause of the War as it seems to have been raging on for decades. While the reader learns the fate of certain characters at the end of this book, the fate of the future is still undetermined.  Highly recommended.

 

Review: The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes by Marcus Sakey

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult (June 9, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 052595211X
  • Source: Publisher
  •  

    A man wakes up, naked and cold, on a isolated beach.  He doesn’t recall why he is there or how he got there.  Actually, he remembers nothing at all.  He finds an abandoned BMW and climbs inside; the car seems familiar and while rummaging through the glove box he finds the registration is made out to Daniel Hayes. Assuming this is his car, he continues rummaging through the glove box and finds a gun.  Becoming more and more concerned by the minute, Daniel is dead set on discovering the course of events that led him to this beach. 

    The registration he finds indicates he is from California; a check of the license plates confirms this.  Based on the temperature, Daniel assumes he’s somewhere along the upper east coast.   Most people would call the police, but Daniel has a nagging feeling he should avoid the police at all cost. His feelings are confirmed when the police bust in to his room at a motel; luckily Daniel isn’t in the room at the time.  He sees flashes of images of a young, beautiful woman, so he does what seems logical: go back to California; answers will be found there.

    Along the way, he discovers why the police are after him: his wife, a gorgeous actress is dead.  When the police wanted to question him about her death-a murder-Daniel turns up missing.  Daniel is forced to rediscover his identity while at the same time evading the police.

    This is the part of the review where I say JUST GO BUY IT.  For real!  I discovered Sakey about a year or so ago, based on a recommendation by Jen Forbus (Jen’s Book Thoughts) who just happens to also appear in the book as a character.  Here is one of the passages in which she is mentioned:

     ”You’re going to get a lawyer.  A criminal lawyer.  I’ll call my friend Jen Forbus .  She makes Johnnie Cochran look like Mr. Bean.”

    Those that know Jen well know that she’s the queen of crime fiction. If she says you need to read a book, you need to read that book.

    As I was saying…I discovered Sakey’s writing nearly a year ago. I loved every single book he’s ever written, my favorite being Good People, so I knew that I would love The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes. What I didn’t know was how much I would love this book.  I was literally knocked off my feet with excitement and anticipation within the first few lines:

    “He was naked and cold, stiff with it, his veins ice and frost.”

     

    Hello, if that’s not enough to get your attention, I don’t know what is!  That’s just the tip of the iceberg…the genius continues through every page of this book.  What impressed me the most was the development of the characters: we discover who Daniel is as he does, we experience his recollection of memories along with him. Sakey does it at a moderate pace, not rushing through to the reveal.  The reader feels the anguish and fear that Daniel feels as he’s slowly uncovering the horrid turn of events that caused his amnesia. 

    I’m known to attempt to figure out the ending as I read, usually I’m pretty successful.  However this time I was stumped, each time I thought I knew the “culprit” I was thrown for another loop.  When I finally came to the end, the only words I could utter were: “Holy Sh*t!”  Still, two days after reading this book, those are still the only two words I can use to describe how this book made me feel. 

    So go now, preorder this book.  I guarantee you won’t regret it.