The Qwillery | category: trinitytwo | (page 8 of 8)


The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

Review: Red Planet Blues by Robert J. Sawyer - July 23, 2013

Red Planet Blues
Author:  Robert J. Sawyer
Publisher:  Ace Hardcover, March 26, 2013
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 368 pages
Price:  $25.95 (print)
ISBN:  9780425256824 (print)
Review Copy: Provided by the Publisher

Review: Red Planet Blues by Robert J. Sawyer - July 23, 2013
Robert J. Sawyer, the author of such “revelatory and thought-provoking”* novels as Triggers and The WWW Trilogy, presents a noir mystery expanded from his Hugo and Nebula Award-nominated novella “Identity Theft” and his Aurora Award-winning short story “Biding Time,” and set on a lawless Mars in a future where everything is cheap, and life is even cheaper…

Alex Lomax is the one and only private eye working the mean streets of New Klondike, the Martian frontier town that sprang up forty years ago after Simon Weingarten and Denny O’Reilly discovered fossils on the Red Planet. Back on Earth, where anything can be synthesized, the remains of alien life are the most valuable of all collectibles, so shiploads of desperate treasure hunters stampeded to Mars in the Great Martian Fossil Rush.

Trying to make an honest buck in a dishonest world, Lomax tracks down killers and kidnappers among the failed prospectors, corrupt cops, and a growing population of transfers—lucky stiffs who, after striking paleontological gold, upload their minds into immortal android bodies. But when he uncovers clues to solving the decades- old murders of Weingarten and O’Reilly, along with a journal that may lead to their legendary mother lode of Martian fossils, God only knows what he’ll dig up...

*The Globe and Mail

Trinitytwo’s point of view:

New Klondike, a domed frontier town reminiscent of the old west, was built on Mars after two explorers discover the first Martian fossils and bring them back to Earth. As actual evidence of extra-terrestrial life, these fossils are the ultimate status symbol, making them the most valuable treasure in the universe. “The Great Martian Fossil Rush” ensues, but good specimens are a rarity. The “Alpha Deposit” or mother lode is still out there but the secret of its location has died with the two original fossil hunters, Weingarten and O’Reilly. Or has it? Enter Alex Lomax, Private Eye. Things are slow until a client comes in with a missing persons case. While searching for clues, a paleontologist hires Lomax because he is suspicious of NewYou, a company that “transfers” biological minds into virtually immortal bodies for a hefty sum. Add another client with ties to the original explorers, and the private eye finds his dance card full. Lomax knows there is a common thread but between dodging bullets and escaping hit men, he just hopes he can solve the mysteries and collect his fees without getting killed in the process.

SciFi noir at its best! I knew I was onto something epic when Star Wars was referenced in the first few pages. Alex Lomax is a futuristic gumshoe with an endearing penchant for old movies, topless barmaids, (one in particular who has caught his eye and a tiny piece of his heart), and snappy comebacks. He is as funny as he is fearless. Red Planet Blues started out almost ten years ago as a prize winning novella called “Identity Theft." I am so excited that Robert J. Sawyer decided to give Private Eye, Alex Lomax a second chance in the lime light! This book is such a superb romp on the red planet that I reread it for this review with the excuse that I needed to check facts. The truth of the matter is that I may have fallen slightly in love with Lomax. His self-deprecating humor amid murder attempts and mayhem have completely won me over. If possible, I’d hop the next spaceship and journey to Mars just so I could hang out with Lomax and have a few drinks, cognizant of the fact that I’d be buying. Sawyer’s delightful combination of action and humor make this suspenseful tale of crime on Mars one of my top reads this year.

Review - Virus Thirteen by Joshua Alan Parry - June 26, 2013

Virus Thirteen
Author:  Joshua Alan Parry
Publisher:  Tor Books, March 26, 2013
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 320 pages
Price:  $7.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780765369543 (print)
Review Copy:  Mass Market Paperback provided by the Publisher

Review - Virus Thirteen by Joshua Alan Parry - June 26, 2013
Virus Thirteen is an irreverent and contagious thriller from debut author Joshua Alan Parry.

Scientists James Logan and his wife, Linda, have their dream careers at the world’s leading biotech company, GeneFirm, Inc. But their happiness is interrupted by a devastating bioterrorist attack: a deadly superflu that quickly becomes a global pandemic. The GeneFirm complex goes into lockdown and Linda’s research team is sent to high-security underground labs to develop a vaccine.

Above ground, James learns that GeneFirm security has been breached and Linda is in danger. To save her he must confront a desperate terrorist, armed government agents, and an invisible killer: Virus Thirteen.

trinitytwo's point of view:

In the sci-fi thriller, Virus Thirteen, our world has become so overpopulated and polluted that global warming has gone too far to be stopped. Our over-controlling government rules Health Care with an iron fist, so smoking, being overweight and free birth is now illegal; it's just too expensive. The scientists at GeneFirm, one of the last privately owned medical facilities, have been able to engineer conception so that no future progeny will be born with cells that can contract cancer. Dr James Logan and his wife, Dr Linda Nguyen head the gene therapy department and are in the middle of revealing their newest breakthrough when the unthinkable happens. James is struck down with an illness that tests reveal is cancer. Impossible, since cancer was eradicated 40 years previously. As James researches his illness, Homeland Health Care agents Mac and Marnoy are assigned to check out reports of an aggressive flu bug and quarantine procedures at a local airport. Before long, people start dying from the virus, which is now deemed a bioterrorist attack, and GeneFirm must discover a vaccine before time runs out.

If I'm going to be honest, when Sally handed me Virus Thirteen by Joshua Alan Parry, I inwardly shuddered. Scenes from the movies Outbreak and Contagion flashed before my eyes. I'm really not a fan of "mega virus wipes out humanity" tales but all that changed before the end of the first chapter. This gripping thriller of a global pandemic and the events surrounding it, hooked me from the get go. Debut author, Parry, who happens to be a resident at the Mayo Clinic and has a B.S. in molecular and cellular biology, obviously knows his stuff. I like the fact that the author doesn't drag out the superflu symptoms but focused on the action and intrigue. The story developed, much like a relay race, passing the baton back and forth between a handful of characters that I was instantly drawn to. Some are smart, some are funny, some are diabolical and one is just plain chubby, but like pieces of a puzzle they fit together in a very satisfying fashion. The reality of a world where "Homeland Health Care" agents have free rein to harass and brutalize smokers, the overweight and the misguided doesn't seem so farfetched with the current political climate. The plot may have been a tiny bit predicable, but there were enough twists to keep me madly turning pages. I read this book in one day; it was just too hard to put down. I've caught the Virus Thirteen bug and I don't want to be cured!

Read Joshua Alan Parry's 2013 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blog - Pink Girl in a Cruel World - here and his Interview here.

Review: The Witch Hunt Novels by Debbie Viguié - June 12, 2013

The Thirteenth Sacrifice
Author:  Debbie Viguié
Series:  A Witch Hunt Novel 1
Publisher:  April 3, 2012
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 368 pages
Price:  $7.99 (print)
ISBN9780451236364 (print)
Review Copy:  Mass Market Paperback provided by the Publisher

Review: The Witch Hunt Novels by Debbie Viguié - June 12, 2013
When young women start dying, Boston cop Samantha Ryan is the perfect person to investigate, for only she knows what the archaic symbol carved into their flesh means. The last in a long line of ruthless witches, she grew up in a coven seduced by power and greed. And now she's sure that bad witches have returned to Salem. Reluctantly, Samantha goes undercover-into a town obsessed with black magic, into her terrifying past, and into the dark, newly awakened heart of evil.

The Last Grave
Author:  Debbie Viguié
Series:  A Witch Hunt Novel 2
Publisher:  March 5, 2013
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 368 pages
Price:  $7.99 (print)
ISBN9780451239570 (print)
Review Copy: Mass Market Paperback provided by the Publisher

Review: The Witch Hunt Novels by Debbie Viguié - June 12, 2013
Samantha Ryan—homicide detective by choice, witch hunter by necessity—has left Salem for San Francisco, hoping a move will help her forget the horrors of her past. But she’s about to discover that witches tempted by the dark side are everywhere....

Samantha is doing whatever she can to forget her terrible childhood in a coven destroyed by its members’ greed and lust for power. Now she’s a San Francisco detective struggling to fight her own desire to turn to magic. But as she discovers, escaping who you are isn’t easy.

Her latest case seems straightforward enough—the murder of a local historian named Winona Lightfoot. But strange clues take Samantha to the Santa Cruz Mountains, a place teeming with witches and black magic. As she works to uncover the connection between Winona and this coven, an earthquake rocks the Bay Area. That’s when Samantha has a premonition: Something is coming. Something evil.

To survive—and save everyone around her—she will have to tackle her greatest fear, and hope she isn’t the next one put into a deep, dark grave.... 

trinitytwo's point of view:

       Samantha Ryan is not your ordinary Boston Detective. Her past of black magic and violence haunts her nightmares with screams. Samantha grew up in Salem, born into membership of a wicked coven; the daughter of a powerful witch. During a summoning, something went terribly wrong and her entire coven was killed, leaving 12 year old Samantha, the sole survivor. Adopted by a loving family, Samantha changed her name and vowed to never practice magic again.

       In The Thirteenth Sacrifice, Samantha’s “witch radar” is aroused at a murder scene. A symbol painted on the dead girl’s body and the slight tingling Samantha recognizes as another witch’s power signature confirm the use of black magic. The murdered girl was used in a ritual human sacrifice and Samantha realizes that more girls will die if she doesn’t go undercover and reenter the dark world of witchcraft to solve this crime. A crime that points back to Salem and a new coven whose diabolical plan picks up where her coven’s had left off. Her fear of her past is only matched by her fear of her abilities and Samantha must find a balance of witchcraft and normalcy to avoid the risk of being consumed by her powers.

       In The Last Grave, Samantha has been forced to relocate to San Francisco due to fallout over her last case, and is hoping to make a fresh start. Inexplicably, a woman is killed in a museum and the apparent cause of death is petrification. Realizing that the only explanation is black magic, the detective is once again reluctantly dragged back into the world of witchcraft that she so desperately wants to avoid. While trying to track down the witch responsible for the murder, she continues to struggle with violent nightmares of her past and begins to experience a frightening loss of control of her own powers. Is there a link to this murder, the recent wave of unnatural earthquakes, and a report of a dark coven practicing black magic in the Santa Cruz Mountains? Samantha must learn to contain her magical abilities, while tracking the coven to discover their purpose before it’s too late.

       The Thirteenth Sacrifice and The Last Grave are part police procedural, part paranormal mystery with a hint of romance thrown in for good measure. Samantha Ryan is a pretty predictable cop. Debbie Viguié’s mysteries are entertaining but ultimately predictable as well. At one point I audibly groaned as Samantha walked heedlessly into a trap. Viguié spent so much time on Samantha’s past that her character sometimes seems one-dimensional in the present. All of Samantha’s personal and professional relationships are tainted by her being a witch and by the second book it was already old. Samantha never wants to talk about it. With anyone. Period. That being said, there were lots of things I enjoyed about these stories. Historic Salem figured largely into the setting of the first book and I really enjoyed the fact that witches had returned to Salem in a big way. Both books reveal Samantha’s past via a journey through doors of her childhood and this portion is intriguing. Unfortunately, a major plot point in the second novel was a bit harder to swallow, and just about negated the story's value for me. The redeeming feature of the second book is that it gives me the sense that the mystery behind Samantha’s past will be revealed soon and in spectacular fashion. These well-written books are spiced with a healthy dose of magic and mayhem and are for the most part good reads. The Witch Hunt Novels remind me of a haunted mansion at night, just the right combination of screams and thrills to make it a fun ride.

Review: Red Planet Blues by Robert J. Sawyer - July 23, 2013Review - Virus Thirteen by Joshua Alan Parry - June 26, 2013Review: The Witch Hunt Novels by Debbie Viguié - June 12, 2013

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