Codename: Red Ops.
Objective: Isolate. Terrorize. Annihilate.
Santiago: Manipulates organs and other body parts to inflict maximum pain and terror.
Ajax: A giant at over 7-feet tall. He just likes to hurt for the sake of causing pain.
Taylor: He’s a biter.
Bernie: Loves to play with fire.
Who are they? A group of convicts hand-picked by the US Military for experimentation, in hopes of creating the ultimate ‘super-soldier.’ They have microchips in implanted in their brains. They follow an uploaded program, and can’t and won’t stop until their mission is complete. They’re enhanced. Besides the chip implants, they’ve had other body modifications; better vision, better hearing, quicker reflexes, performance-enhancing drugs for bigger muscles and more endurance. Their dopamine and serotonin levels are enhanced, allowing greater resistance to pain. Provided with the latest in body armor, they are almost indestructible. They are instruments of mass destruction.…Continue Reading
Porfiry Petrovich has a new assistant, and a fresh murder to investigate. The crime scene evidence indicates it’s a perfect starter case for his new charge. The facts are clear, the suspects limited, and within the hour a perp is in custody. By all appearances it’s an easy first lesson for our budding magistrate. That is, until a second murder occurs. While seemingly unconnected at first blush, they share a singular detail. Perhaps only a coincidence, it is significant enough to Porfiry to warrant closer examination, triggering a journey into shocking revelations, slumbering resentments, and hidden relationships. The suspects are many, the secrets are manifold, and there is always the danger of professional humiliation, or worse yet, political retaliation.…Continue Reading
Continuing to highlight some novels based on true crimes, I am reposting a review of Douglas Preston and Mario Spez’s novel, The Monster of Florence. The novel details what happens when Preston and Spezi try to identify the serial killer known as The Monster of Florence. They think the have found their man, when Preston is asked to leave the country and Spezi is thrown in Italy’s Capanne prison, accused of being the Monster of Florence himself. I thought this would be a good second choice for this new column, especially since United Artists will produce a film version of the novel that Tom Cruise will produce and possibly star in.…Continue Reading
–I had this great English teacher in college. Worshiped the guy. I was a physics major and yet, every semester I was trying to shoe-horn every one of this guy’s classes in as electives. I was a sophomore physics major sitting in 400-level English classes with a small circle of other students that could actually spell. Literally a small circle. These were those tiny classes that sometimes don’t get taught because not enough students think the subject is important and the ones that do think they are so important they have to face each other instead of the teacher. I was just there because I worshiped the wrinkled-old man who was teaching the class and who was probably gay for me in a less-abstract way than I was gay for him.…Continue Reading
About a year ago DreaminDemon.com, began using the name of the alleged criminal in the title of every blog post. Since then it has become standard practice at many other true-crime blogs, a mimicry that provides no shortage of flattery. Unfortunately for James Renner, no names of the assuredly guilty can grace the titles of his chapters. In The Serial Killer’s Apprentice he usually has to settle for the somber and sad inclusion of only the names of victims.…Continue Reading
In the Woods comes with a ton of expectations. With an Edgar award, a Macavity Award, an Irish Book Award, and the Strand’s award for best first novel, I cracked this book open prepared to be blown away. You would think a let-down was imminent, but instead I was up way past my bedtime two nights in a row, desperate to finish the novel but dreading not having any more to read. Good news on both fronts: the end was satisfying, a sequel was released this summer, and Tana’s publicist informs me that she is hard at work on a third. Not only was I satisfied, I get to go back for more!…Continue Reading
Dead or Alive is McGarrity’s 12th Kevin Kerney novel. Fans of his series probably know exactly what to expect and will pick up this book on day one, but it was my first encounter with the author and his characters, so this review is for people who might be interested in getting on board. Before I discuss Dead or Alive, I have to say how much I love McGarrity’s website. I wish every author had a resource like this. For each book (Tularosa, for instance), he has provided a synopsis, reviews, and even interactive maps. Locations used in the books are laid out relative to one another and the locales are hyperlinked to other resources. The same meticulous touch that is evident in McGarrity’s writing of Dead or Alive pervades his site. It is an attention to detail that may be a mixed blessing, unfortunately.…Continue Reading
If there was an award for scariest dedication, Chelsea Cain wouldn’t have any competition. Her national bestseller, Heartsick, starts off with: “For Marc Mohan, who loved me even after he read this book”. I had to pause before I started the first chapter. What in the hell was I getting myself into? A pickle, that’s what. I have a bit of a problem here. I am giving this book our highest marks and I am about to lavish some serious praise on it, but I am by no means recommending this book to everyone. If anyone passed by and bought this book because they saw my five stars, and now you are back to determine what in the world I was thinking, all I can say is: I didn’t tell you so. Because you didn’t listen.…Continue Reading
I am a fast walker. Olympic fast. It isn’t something I am even aware of until a laggard points it out to me. A laggard–or a trio of muggers. The first time I was mugged I was in London. Forging ahead of my leisurely-paced family, threading through a British crowd that tended to pass me on the incorrect side, I bumped into a chap, which sent me into oncoming pedestrian traffic where I was nearly bowled over by a man twice my size. The next thing I know, the very large man is holding me by the cuff, nearly lifting me off the ground and yelling with an accent too thick to comprehend.…Continue Reading
Interred With Their Bones sure had a lot stacked against it. Having come off an incredible streak of three delightful novels, the last of which was easily my favorite read of the year, it was time for a deviation to the mean. As I began Carrell’s novel, I thought that this would be it. A nice 3-star review to settle my average and set me up for the next read. I was using this book as a rebound and I wasn’t ashamed of it. I am now. My plan would have worked, but the subject matter of Interred With Their Bones is just too dear to my heart. Not to unfairly compare, but Carrell’s tale is The Da Vinci Code with Shakespeare taking the place of Da Vinci. It is a shame that Dan Brown did it first, because Carrell does it better.…Continue Reading
Daniel Suarez’s Daemon is an amazing story. And I’m not talking about the actual plot; for that, the word “Amazing” would not suffice. No, I am referring to the incredible series of events which are leading up to its publication and release on January 8th. After writing Daemon back in 2004, Suarez faced the uphill battle common to many first-time authors. Unable to find a buyer, yet confident of the quality of his work, he decided to self-publish. Using print-on-demand, Suarez pumped out a few dozen copies a month, at the time sporting the pseudonym of Leinad Zeraus, his real name spelled backwards. Eventually the book achieved an underground and vocal following. A tipping point of sorts was reached, and the right people began promoting the book in whatever way they could, people like Craig, of Craigslist fame and Rick Klau, at Feedburner (now owned by Google). This network helped boost sales until the bright folks at Dutton publishing realized that a phenomenal author was going ignored.…Continue Reading
Syzygy. The alignment of three heavenly bodies. That’s what this is for me. Comic books, Noir Murder Mysteries, Secularization. In my review of Double Indemnity I hinted at an upcoming Noir event that I would be following with interest. And here it is. Marvel is doing for Noir what they lately did for zombies, recasting their iconic characters in a new world for a new audience. And if the first offering is any indication, this is going to be a smash hit.…Continue Reading
Despite the sad fact that the species is dwindling, India is still known as the “Land of the Tiger”. Rarer still is the White Tiger, Panthera tigris, the albino tiger. The White Tiger has become legendary around the world, captivating zoo-goers, wowing Vegas magic audiences, and even serving as the ultimate gift to heads of state. With long ties to India, the White Tiger remains symbolic of that countries’ uniqueness, power, grace, and stature. With his Man-Booker prize winning book, White Tiger, Aravind Adiga takes a cynical look at his native land and helps to demolish such hubris-filled symbolism. His is a nasty, satirical, gloomy vision of the land worshiped by those who long for an overthrow of American hegemony.…Continue Reading
I picked up Down River in my local bookstore’s Regional section. Hart lives a few hours from my current home, and an hour or so from where I grew up on my father’s farm, in North Carolina. Just about every murder I have ever attempted to solve has taken place in one of three locals: New York City, Los Angeles, or Miami. How refreshing, then, to read about Charlotte, NC as the “Big City”, and most events taking place on a farm in a small town very much like the one I grew up in (and not so very far away).…Continue Reading
I hope this isn’t going to be my routine (see my Manhunt review), but I feel like I need to rant a bit before I discuss the latest graphic novel by Brian Azzarello. Without a bit of perspective on my love/hate relationship with DC comics, there is no way that you, the reader, can appreciate my enthusiasm for Batman’s new direction. The problem with Batman is that he has been too popular for too long. This has created a mess of his universe, as thousands of different creative minds have taken turns molding his personality, behaviors, and environment. Couple this will the urge to continually top themselves, and the greatest detective mind in the comic universe has been transformed to a meta-human superhero of cosmic significance.…Continue Reading
Just when I had my feelings for ol’ Abe Lincoln sorted out, James Swanson comes along with Manhunt and scrambles them up again. Of course, this is precisely what Booth’s assassination did for most of a nation: took an extremely controversial President and turned him into the saintly martyr that he remains today. How fucking “meta” is that? An author, through a re-telling of events, takes the reader through the same complex swings of emotion that the contemporaries of the story endured?…Continue Reading