Tag: Hit and Miss

Peter James – Denial | Review

Title: Denial

Author: Peter James

Type: Fiction

Page Count: 502

Rating: 3.75/5

I was pleasantly surprised by this book because it’s one of the older Peter James books on my pile and I’ve found them to be kind of hit and miss, with the quality varying widely without really seeming to vary depending upon when he actually wrote the things. Most of his books have some theme or another in them and so perhaps it depends more on what his theme is than on the book itself.

Here, you can probably guess the theme based on the title of the book. The story follows the son of a well-known film star and basically covers the unhealthy way in which he comes to terms with his mother’s death. Pretty unusually, we know that the kid is the bad guy right away, and we see things from his perspective as he goes around carrying out his revenge for society’s perceived wrongs against his mother.

It’s a pretty decent thriller novel to be honest, and while I’m not exactly the biggest reader of thrillers, there was still plenty here to keep me reading. In fact, despite the fact that it’s pretty massive, I flew through it in a couple of days and was left surprised by just how easy it was for me to get through it. Sure, there weren’t a ton of characters that I liked and related to, but the story line alone was enough to get me going.

I think a big part of that was down to the way that the antagonist here was so fully fleshed out, even though he was kind of crazy. I also liked the way that he incorporated fate into his crime spree, in this case by flipping a coin to decide his next move. I kind of want to play with that myself, so perhaps I’ll work it into a story.

I like the idea of a novel that’s based on the character as opposed to the plot in which I start by fleshing out the character and allow fate to guide the plot. Every time my character flipped a coin, I’d flip a coin, and that would decide the action that the character takes and thus the plot. The only problem is that I’m usually a plotter as opposed to a pantser, and so it would be an alien process to me.

All in all then, as you can tell, I enjoyed reading this book and it gave me a lot of food for thought. The enjoyment level was so-so, but I think it punched above its weight when it comes to the ideas that it shared. That for me is more of a testament to James’ ability than anything else, and so far I’ve almost always found him to be worth reading, although I’ll also admit that there are better writers out there.

So would I recommend it, then? Yeah, probably, especially if you like thrillers. You’ll like it!

Learn more about Denial.

 


B. A. Paris – The Break Down | Review

Title: The Break Down

Author: B. A. Paris

Type: Fiction

Page Count: 432

Rating: 4/5

I normally find thriller novels pretty hit and miss, but I’ve quite enjoyed what I’ve read of B. A. Paris so far. I might even be slightly more kindly disposed towards her because I was sent a copy of Behind Closed Doors, her first novel, ahead of its publication.

I think part of it is the fact that her writing just feels a little more polished to me. There’s a sort of style of writing that’s pretty common amongst thriller writers that just grates on me somehow, a way with words that just feels clunky and which pulls me out of the story. That doesn’t seem to happen with B. A. Paris.

Still, it wasn’t flawless. One of my biggest problems with it was a scene in which a group of French students steal a phone and then give it to the main character. I don’t want to say too much because I don’t want to spoil things for you, but it was kind of a Deus Ex Machina kind of thing where it all just felt too coincidental. And if it hadn’t happened, the whole story couldn’t have taken place.

Overall though, I did enjoy reading this, and I was particularly impressed by how gripping it was. I found it difficult to put down, and there wasn’t a slowdown in the story towards the middle, which I find is pretty typical in thriller novels. I think it probably also helped that it did some fun stuff with layout towards the end as we start to see a series of text messages, and this meant that the page was broken up and you could whizz through a dozen pages in just a couple of minutes. I think that layout might annoy some people, but not me.

So would I recommend The Break Down? Absolutely. It’s a refreshing little read in a genre that’s been done to death. In fact, I think that most people would probably enjoy it even if they don’t consider themselves to be thriller readers, and that’s saying something. It’s just pretty approachable, and it does a great job of the whole “twist” thing, to the point at which you could probably re-read it and still enjoy it because you’d start to look for the clues.

Now that I’ve enjoyed both this book and Behind Closed Doors, I think we can safely say that I’m a fan of B. A. Paris, and I’ll definitely check out more stuff.

Learn more about The Break Down.