Book Review: Private Games by James Patterson & Mark Sullivan

The following review originally appeared on Book End Babes, a website devoted to a love of reading and to learning about new authors.

Those of you who have read my posts here on BEB know my love of James Patterson. I refer to him often. So when my mom passed along his latest book, co-authored with Mark Sullivan, to me I was thrilled to review such a timely book for you all!

A synopsis of the book from James Patterson’s website:

Private, the world’s most renowned investigation firm, has been commissioned to provide security for the 2012 Olympic games in London. Its agents are the smartest, fastest, and most technologically advanced in the world, and 400 of them have been transferred to London to protect over 10,000 competitors who represent more than 200 countries.

The opening ceremony is still hours away when Private investigator and single father of twins, Nigel Steele, is called to the scene of a ruthless murder. A high-ranking member of the games’ organizing committee and his mistress have been killed. It’s clear that it wasn’t a crime of passion, but one of precise calculation and execution.

Newspaper reporter Karen Pope receives a letter from a person who calls himself Cronus claiming responsibility for the murders. He also proclaims that he will restore the Olympics to their ancient glory and will destroy all who have corrupted the games with lies, cheating, and greed. Karen immediately hires Private to examine the letter, and she and Nigel uncover a criminal genius who won’t stop until he’s ended the games for good.

When I read this, I thought, how ballsy to write a book complete with terrorist activities set at the 2012 London Games before they even happen. But then I read the acknowledgements in the back of the book. If the International Olympic Committee provided information and tours of the site of the games for this book to be accurate, I consider that a stamp of approval.

For those of you who read Patterson’s novels, you may already be familiar with Jack Morgan, the owner of Private International. He is one of my favorites of Patterson’s characters, behind Michael Bennett and Alex Cross. While he plays more of a minor character in this novel that takes on his company’s name, his presence was welcome in this novel.

Peter Knight, a new character introduced in this novel, is one of the best I have seen written. Patterson and Sullivan did a nice job of creating a story that interweaves Knight’s personal and private lives with an interesting family twist of characters. (I don’t want to give this one away)

And the who-done-it; I didn’t predict who did it until I got toward the very end. Cronus, this novel’s evil and tormented character, has a story like no other. It’s dark and twisted and he is absolutely insane at points. How they can craft a character like this, I cannot wrap my head around.

For a Patterson novel, this was a slower read which I appreciated. I can normally fly through one of his books in a few hours, but I really loved all of the details and the accuracy of this novel. I could not put this one down. I really hope that Peter Knight is a character that hangs around.

Are you a James Patterson fan? Or are you just a fan of sick, twisted murders? Who are some of your favorite murders from your favorite mystery writer?

Book Review: Black Wings by Kathleen Toomey Jabs

The following review originally appeared on Book End Babes, a website devoted to a love of reading and to learning about new authors.

When I read the synopsis of Black Wings, I was intrigued. OOOH, a Naval Mystery. Here’s what sucked me in:

LT Bridget Donovan suspects the worst when her former Naval Academy roommate, Audrey Richards, perishes in a botched take-off from an aircraft carrier. The Navy says it’s an accident, but facts don’t add up. Could it be suicide, or murder? Donovan’s unofficial investigation into what really happened, both during their past Academy days and in Richards’ final hours, forces her to examine the concepts of honor, justice and the role of loyalty in pursuit of those ideals.

I personally don’t know much about the Navy as my close friends are in the Army and in the Air Force. I was a tad worried that I might not be able to decipher the book because of the jargon. It’s written so clearly and any jargon that Toomey Jabs uses is explained in context.

I feel like the last few reviews I wrote for you were about fictions with strong female characters. Black Wings is no different. Lieutenants Bridget Donovan and Audrey Richards are two strong women fighting to find their place in the male-dominated world of the Navy.

I find it so interesting that Toomey Jabs plays up the stereotypes of women in the Navy so well and this scenario provides a lot of insight in to what women in the military still may be facing. She tells us in the acknowledgements that she drew upon some of her experiences in the academy and the people she knew there. I’m curious to know which experiences she brought into this work of fiction and if some of the evil guys are based on those characters.

I loved the almost always optimistic Audrey, who even when she was afraid she would lose it all, still fought against sexism and against the taunting of the men. “Onward and upward” she would always tell Bridget, her best friend, confidant and roommate.

But it was Bridget who made this novel for me. Maybe I really liked her character because she reminded me of myself. If I was Bridget, I would go after the truth, no matter what the price. Whether you work in Public Affairs like Bridget, or are a journalist like Gleason, you are always looking to find out the truth and to make sure the whole story is told.

Gleason is an interesting character. I would even consider him a main character, even though he isn’t always in the dialogue. He’s the driving force behind Bridget’s quest for the truth and helps her piece together what really happened to Audrey.

And the who done it, it depends which part of the mystery you want to solve. I figured it out toward the end, but was stunned to hear about the other players in Audrey’s plane crash. In some parts, you can draw your own conclusions.

I usually don’t like epilogues. I feel they always tie the story in a nice little bow at the end. Not this one. Toomey Jabs leaves you wanting more and more and more. If you are reading this, I WANT A SEQUEL! Bridget makes a huge decision in the epilogue and I want to know more! I want to know how it affects her life, her career and the Navy!

This page turner is a MUST READ!

Have any of you ever read a Naval mystery? If you have, share your recommendations with us!

Book Review: Blood Orchids by Toby Neal

The following review originally appeared on Book End Babes, a website devoted to a love of reading and to learning about new authors.

Those of you who have read my past reviews know a good murder mystery warms my heart, especially the ones that I cannot put down. Toby Neal is a fantastic writer and I cannot wait for the next books in the Lei Crime Novel series. But first, let me tell you about why I LOVED Blood Orchids.

 Hawaii is palm trees, black sand and blue water-but for policewoman Lei Texeira, there’s a dark side to paradise. Lei has overcome a scarred past to make a life for herself as a cop in the sleepy Big Island town of Hilo. On a routine patrol she finds two murdered teenagers-one of whom she’d recently busted. With its echoes of her own past, the murdered girl’s harsh life and tragic death affect Lei deeply. She becomes obsessed-even as the killer is drawn to Lei’s intensity, feeding off her vulnerabilities and toying with her sanity. Despite her obsession with the case and fear that she’s being stalked, Lei finds herself falling in love for the first time. Steaming volcanoes, black sand beaches and shrouded fern forests are the backdrop to Lei’s quest for answers-and the stalker is closer than she can imagine, as threads of the past tangle in her future. Lei is determined to find the killer-but he knows where to find her first.

Neal has created, dare I say, a character that can rival that of James Patterson’s Lindsay Boxer? Lei is a strong woman struggling to deal with the demons of her past. She has drive, ambition and loves to get herself into situations she might just not have needed to be in She’s ballsy and I love it. Her partner, Pono, provides balance to Lei’s character and serves as the rock in her life.

Neal obviously did her research before writing this novel and it paid off. The descriptions of the Hawaiian settings made me feel the warmth of the sun. The use of Pidgin throughout the novel creates another layer of authenticity. I don’t feel like the novel could have been set anywhere else.

This story wouldn’t be complete without some sexual tension with a leading male figure, in this case Detective Stevens. Their first meetings reminded me of how it was for Castle and Detective Beckett. The development of the relationship between Lei and Detective Stevens is interwoven beautifully into the narrative of story without taking away from the crimes. It’s constantly there in a subtle way that makes you want to turn the page to see what happens not only on the case, but between Lei and Stevens as well.

I am so happy this novel got placed into my hands. I loved it and would have read it cover to cover if life didn’t continue to move around me. And you are not going to believe who done it! I did not see this coming AT ALL!

I cannot wait for the next books in the Lei Crime Series to come out. Toby Neal you have created a novel that has lured me in for life! Everyone should rush and download or buy her book now! You won’t regret it!

Who are some of your favorite female heroines? Do they keep you checking to see when the next novel is going to come out?