Tag Archives: thriller

James Rollins / Rebecca Cantrell Blood Infernal (Review)

The Author’s

James Rollins

rollins

JAMES ROLLINS is the New York Times bestselling author of international thrillers, translated into more than forty languages.  His Sigma series has been lauded as one of the “top crowd pleasers” (New York Times) and one of the “hottest summer reads” (People Magazine). In each novel, acclaimed for its originality, Rollins unveils unseen worlds, scientific breakthroughs, and historical secrets–and he does it all at breakneck speed and with stunning insight. James Rollins decided to become a writer as a boy immersed in the scientific adventures of Doc Savage, the wonders of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, and pulps such as The Shadow, The Spider, and The Avenger. He honed his storytelling skills early, spinning elaborate tales that were often at the heart of pranks played on his brothers and sisters.

Although his talent emerged and grew, writing was not James’ original profession. Before he would set heroes and villains on harrowing adventures, he embarked on a career in veterinary medicine, graduating from the University of Missouri and establishing a successful veterinary. This hands-on knowledge of medicine and science helps shape the research and scientific speculation that set James Rollins books apart.

The exotic locales of James Rollins novels have emerged as a hybrid between imagination, research, and James’ extensive travels throughout the United States and Europe, as well as New Zealand, the South Pacific, China, Southeast Asia, Africa, Australia, and South America. Recent travel includes book tours and stops across the country and several European nations to meet readers and give talks, seminars, and media interviews.

In recent years, much of James’ travel has involved meeting readers in small and large groups, at writing and fan conferences, and even aboard seagoing “seminars.” James’ mentoring temperament and coaching skills have made him a sought-out writing instructor and guest speaker for workshops, symposia, conventions, and other forums throughout the country. He is among the core faculty of the annual Maui Writer’s Conference and Retreat.

James Rollins is the author of seven thrillers in the bestselling Sigma Force series (Sandstorm, Map of Bones, Black Order, The Judas Strain, The Last Oracle, The Doomsday Key, and The Devil Colony); six individual adventure thrillers; the blockbuster movie novelization, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull; and the Jake Ransom middle grade series (Jake Ransom and the Skull King’s Shadow, Jake Ransom and the Howling Sphinx, and more coming in 2013). The eighth Sigma Force adventure, Bloodline, is coming in Summer 2012.

In 2005, James joined other luminaries in the genre to create the International Thriller Writers, Inc. ITW recognizes and promotes the thriller genre, provides opportunities for mentoring, education, and collegiality among authors and industry professionals, and grants awards for excellence in thriller writing. James is currently the Co-President of ITW, serving alongside Steve Berry. (From Author’s Bio)

Rebecca Cantrell

Rebecca Cantrell

 Rebecca Cantrell’s Hannah Vogel mystery/thriller novels have won the Bruce Alexander and Macavity awards and been nominated for the Barry and RT Reviewers Choice awards; her critically-acclaimed cell phone novel, iDrakula, was nominated for the APPY award and listed on Booklist’s Top 10 Horror Fiction for Youth. She and her husband and son just left Hawaii’s sunny shores for adventures in Berlin. Find Rebecca Cantrell on Facebook, Twitter, and at Authors Website.

 

Blood Infernal

(2015)
(The third book in the Order of the Sanguines series)
A novel by Rebecca Cantrell and James Rollins

Blood infernal

As an escalating scourge of grisly murders sweeps the globe, archaeologist Erin Granger must decipher the truth behind an immortal prophecy foretold in the Blood Gospel, a tome written by Christ and lost for centuries: The shackles of Lucifer have been loosened, and his Chalice remains lost. It will take the light of all three to forge the Chalice anew and banish him again to his eternal darkness. With the Apocalypse looming, Erin must again join forces with Army Sergeant Jordan Stone and Father Rhun Korza to search for a treasure lost for millennia. But the prize has already fallen into the hands of their enemy, a demon named Legion, before whom even the walls of the Vatican will fall.

The search for the key to salvation will take Erin and the others across centuries and around the world, from the dusty shelves of the Vatican’s secret archives to lost medieval laboratories, where ancient alchemies were employed to horrific ends. All the while, they are hunted, besieged by creatures of uncanny skill and talent. As clues are dug free from ancient underground chapels and found frozen in icy mountain caverns, Erin will discover that the only hope for victory lies in an impossible act–one that will destroy not only her, but all she loves. To protect the world, Erin must walk through the very gates of Hell and face the darkest of enemies: Lucifer himself.

With The Blood Gospel, the first novel in the Order of the Sanguines series, James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell combined science, myth, and religion to introduce a breathtaking world where miracles hold new meaning and the fight for good over evil is far more complicated than we ever dreamed. And now, in this epic conclusion to the Sanguines trilogy, Blood Infernal, they take us to the very pit of Hell itself, making us peer into the abyss and face our greatest fears, to answer the ultimate question: what price will we pay for true salvation?

Review

When i first heard about this series i worried that it was just another vampire series, that it might be a bit of true blood band wagon jumping. But books 1&2 soon put paid to that. This book 3 is a bitter sweet experience, endings are always tough with a really good series, and this is one that has been a favorite for a couple of years, ending can however be complicated, can the author (s) get it right?

Yes is the answer, James Rollins is one of my favorite thriller writers, and having read Rebecca Cantrell’s Tesla books i can see the where and why the blending of talents has worked so well. Its not that one is better than the other, its similar to when Feist and Wurts got together and wrote the empire trilogy, a set of books that took both authors beyond their normal writing. This is what i feel has happened again here.

Each and every book in this series has been an original action packed supernatural thriller and Blood Infernal is no different. But more important its a fitting and sublime end to a wonderful series. In any thriller like this there is a risk of going OTT, of taking the action beyond the mildly plausible, even with the supernatural you need to avoid that risk. Both these authors avoid doing that with style and panache, keeping the reader on the edge of their seat through-out. So many teasing tit bits from biblical myth brought forth and used in this story, so much action and so much energy and emotion. The characters will make you laugh and cry out in surprise, gasp and sob in anguish. Its going to be up there with my favorite books at the end of this year.

Very highly recommended for this book and this splendid series.

(Parm)

Series
Sigma Force
1. Sandstorm (2004)
2. Map of Bones (2005)
3. Black Order (2006)
4. The Judas Strain (2007)
5. The Last Oracle (2008)
6. The Doomsday Key (2009)
6.5. The Skeleton Key (2011)
7. The Devil Colony (2010)
7.5. Tracker (2012)
8. Bloodline (2012)
9. The Eye of God (2013)
10. The Sixth Extinction (2014)
11. The Bone Labyrinth (2015)
The Doomsday Key / The Last Oracle (omnibus) (2011)
The Sigma Force Novels (omnibus) (2013)
Sigma Force Novels 1 (omnibus) (2014)
SandstormMap of BonesBlack OrderThe Judas Strain
The Last OracleThe Doomsday KeyThe Skeleton KeyThe Devil Colony
TrackerBloodlineThe Eye of GodThe Sixth Extinction
The Doomsday Key / The Last OracleThe Sigma Force NovelsSigma Force Novels 1
Jake Ransom
1. Jake Ransom and the Skull King’s Shadow (2009)
2. Jake Ransom and the Howling Sphinx (2010)
Jake Ransom Complete Collection (omnibus) (2014)
Jake Ransom and the Skull King's ShadowJake Ransom and the Howling SphinxJake Ransom Complete Collection
Order of the Sanguines (with Rebecca Cantrell)
0.5. City of Screams (2012)
1. The Blood Gospel (2013)
1.5. Blood Brothers (2013)
2. Innocent Blood (2013)
3. Blood Infernal (2015)
City of ScreamsThe Blood GospelBlood BrothersInnocent BloodBlood Infernal
Tucker Wayne (with Grant Blackwood)
1. The Kill Switch (2014)
2. War Hawk (2015)
The Kill Switch
Novels
Subterranean (1999)
Excavation (2000)
Deep Fathom (2001)
Amazonia (2002)
Ice Hunt (2003)
Altar of Eden (2009)
SubterraneanExcavationDeep FathomAmazoniaIce HuntAltar of Eden
Novellas
The Devil’s Bones: Cotton Malone vs. Gray Pierce (2014)(with Steve Berry)
The Devil's Bones: Cotton Malone vs. Gray Pierce
Series contributed to
Indiana Jones (Films)
4. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull(2008)
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

 

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Filed under Action/ Adventure Thrillers, James Rollins, Rebecca Cantrell, Supernatural, Thrillers

David Gibbins: Pyramid (review)

‘What do you get if you cross Indiana Jones with Dan Brown? Answer: David Gibbins’

David+Gibbins+Author+2010

BIOGRAPHY (in authors own words)

Much of the inspiration for my novels comes from my own experiences as an archaeologist and diver. I was born in Canada to English parents, and have divided my time between the two countries when I’ve not been on expeditions and travelling. After taking a first-class honours degree from the University of Bristol I completed a PhD in archaeology at the University of Cambridge, and then spent almost ten years as an academic in England before becoming a writer full-time. I’ve been a passionate diver since boyhood, and have led many expeditions to investigate ancient shipwrecks in the Mediterranean and elsewhere in the world.

The photo in the banner was taken when I was a graduate student, and shows me examining pottery from a Roman shipwreck excavated under my direction off Sicily. To find out more about my background and interests, click on the boxes below and follow my blog

Ptramid+Headline+jacket

 

For thousands of years, Egypt was a rich, ingenious civilization. Then it became a fertile hunting ground for archaeologists and explorers. Now the streets of Cairo teem with violence as a political awakening shakes the region.

Archaeologist Jack Howard has connected a mystery hidden inside a great pyramid to a fossilized discovery in the Red Sea and a 150-year-old handwritten report of a man who claims to have escaped a labyrinth beneath Cairo. For that his team is stalked by a brutal extremist organization that will destroy any treasure they find.

As people fight and die for their rights above ground, Jack fights for a discovery that will shed an astounding new light on the greatest story ever told: Moses’s exodus from Egypt and the true beginnings of a new chapter in human history.

Review:

I have taken my time on this one, i wanted to read an review a little after the book had come out, i also wanted to go back and re-read Pharaoh, to give me that continuity of story arc in a back to back read.

I’m glad i did, for me i love that extended storyline, the two books blending so well (yet i can see how they work as stand alone entities) . There has it seems been a story arc in David Gibbins books that has developed and matured over the 8 books written in the Jack Howard series. When i first started reading this author back in 2005, it was with a view to having found a nice fluffy new brain wipe thriller writer, one with a historical twist and not too much conspiracy. What i have got instead has been an ongoing growth in story and characters, a plot that developed in depth and complexity as the series progressed, as the author brought to the fore more and more fantastic yet highly plausible scenarios for famous historical figures or locations. That then evolved again in book 6 when the author delved deeper into the location and reasoning for Atlantis, and its ties to Europe and its development, the development of language and nations all of this wrapped up in a highly thrilling adventure story.

Then comes Pyramid, this book brings everything full circle, the characters, the plot, the hypothetical journey of mankind and which nation influenced which (Greece or Egypt), all of this told against the backdrop of an Egypt going up in flames, literally. The descendants of the Mahdi (out for revenge for a slight 100 years old, committed by Kitchener after the death or Gordon of Khartoum ), the Jihadists, infiltrating all levels of government until Egypt is ready to fall, and with it the western worlds cradle of archaeology. The country that captures the imagination with its immense age and towering monuments, all at risk, and Jack and Costas searching for the last clues to 10 years of searching, a trail of clues spanning 8 books, to find Akhenaten, his links to Moses and what drove these men, one to destroy and army and turn against his gods and another to found a people.

The final chapters of this book are utterly breathless, not just because the many times one or both of our heroes are down to little or no air left, but the power and pace of the story. David Gibbins captures the feel, sights and sounds of a city tearing its self apart, descending back into the dark ages. Sinking to levels of depravity that the mind shies away from. I applaud the authors skill and also bravery in describing the scenes so well, nothing is glorified, it is reported giving it the feel of a CNN news crew at the heart of the destruction and horror, yet keeping the thriller and mystery of the plot going.

I truly enjoyed this book, the horror and the fear, the potential for disaster should be mandatory reading to everyone, to understand what we could lose if groups like ISIS ever made it into control of wonders like Egypt, and the wonders we are losing in places like Syria, and the suffering of the people already under the control of these people. At the same time as this serious plot line is an utterly compelling historical adventure thriller, delivered by a man who lives and breathes the archaeology.

Highly Recommended

(Parm)

Series

 

Jack Howard
1. Atlantis (2005)
2. Crusader Gold (2006)
3. The Last Gospel (2008)
aka The Lost Tomb
4. The Tiger Warrior (2009)
5. The Mask of Troy (2010)
6. The Gods of Atlantis (2011)
aka Atlantis God
7. Pharaoh (2013)
8. Pyramid (2014)
The Atlantis Collection: Atlantis / Crusader Gold / The Last Gospel (omnibus) (2014)
AtlantisCrusader GoldThe Last GospelThe Tiger WarriorThe Mask of TroyThe Gods of AtlantisPharaohPyramid
The Atlantis Collection: Atlantis / Crusader Gold / The Last Gospel
 Total War Rome
1. Destroy Carthage (2013)
2. Sword of Attila (2015)
Destroy Carthage

 

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Filed under Action/ Adventure Thrillers, David Gibbins, Historical Fiction, Thrillers

John Carter: Last Judgement (Review)

John Carter

mystery

John Carter is an author who writes books for Penguin. Officially, John Carter is the pseudonym of a bestselling novelist and academic who lives in the US.

Unofficially, he is an unapologetic addict of toast, mildly obsessed with hiking, and when pressed will admit to not having written The Hunt for Red October.

You can follow him on Twitter @JohnCarterAuth

You can also find him on Facebook at facebook.com/johncarterauthor

Web site Click Here

Book Description

Last Judgement

Last Judgement is a rip-roaring conspiracy thriller debut from John Carter.

In a hidden chamber off the coast of Nova Scotia an ancient tablet has been unearthed. Under layers of dirt is a series of symbols that will lead to one of the greatest treasures the world has ever known. For over 650 years it had remained undiscovered.

Angela Derby, the woman behind the discovery, enlists the help of ex-army Captain, Jack Shepherd and together they decipher the runes and begin a journey across the world. But they are not the only ones seeking the treasure and their quest soon becomes a race to stay alive.

Review

It you love action thrillers, conspiracy thrillers and books which take the unsolved and give you a reasoned (if fantastic) scenario to fill in the blanks, then whats not to like in this book. Its got the mystery of the Templar Knights, a group that has filled hundreds of thousands of pages of thrillers and still in every new one manages to capture the imagination. John Carter (or whom ever he really is….man that’s going to bug me) has utilised Time-slip style to tell the story, jumping from the death of the last Grand Master in 1314 to modern day america and state of the art archaeology with out treasure hunters. We follow the journey of one of the last Knights Templar, escaping the purge of his order, but also on his road to revenge , whilst at the same time we follow that journey in modern times using the clues this Knight left behind and a small group of well funded professionals all with their own reasons for tracking him.

This type of book is very easy to say “yeah right, as if” , but its also very easy to suspend disbelief, to let yourself go and be subsumed by the fantastical and be pulled into a well told story, especially when its told so well and filled with great research into the history being used to drive the plot. The main thrust of the journey rips across the world, taking our heroes from America all the way across the world, the pace is addictive and stops you putting the book down at, even at 1am, stealing sleep at every opportunity. Its that fantastic pace that is used to hide the purpose of the plot, and that you need to read the book to find out, but be warned this book is not just a treasure hunt, there is much more to it, and well worth the time spent on it.

If you are still due to go on holiday, then this is the pool side book you must take with you, if you need a book to eclipse a wet autumn / winter weekend, then look no further, Although this seems to be a debut book by John Carter but Carter is the pseudonym of a successful thriller writer and it shows in this book.

If i had to be slightly critical (and this is purely my own person observation.. i know others who share my enjoyment of this type of book think differently) i found myself wondering why Jack Joined the group, he didn’t provide a stunning difference to the group in terms of skills and he also felt a bit wooden at times. I found the Blackburn’s very well written and also Angela Derby, and also all past characters, Jack felt like the linchpin to pull it together and follow the story, and as such more of a plot leader than a real person… i hope in book 2 he will gain some depth (i’m sure he will, given the writing skill of the author).

I certainly recommend this thriller, but that doesn’t mean i wont be looking for improvement in book 2 (sorry have to push)

(Parm)

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James Rollins: The Sixth Extinction (Review)

James Rollins

rollins

(James Czajkowski)
USA (1961 – )

aka James Clemens

James Rollins was born in Chicago, Illinois, is 1961. With his three brothers and three sisters, he was raised in the Midwest and rural Canada. He graduated with a doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University of Missouri and went on to establish his own veterinary practice in Sacramento, California. An amateur spelunker and a PADI-certified scuba enthusiast, he’ll often be found either underground or underwater.

Bio: Authors web site Bio

Buy from WH Smiths

 6th extinction

Book Description

A remote military research station in Utah sends out a frantic distress call, ending with a chilling final command: Kill us all! Personnel from the neighbouring base rush in to discover everyone already dead – and not just the scientists, but every living thing for 50 square miles has been annihilated. The land is entirely sterile – and the blight is spreading.

To halt the inevitable, Commander Gray Pierce and Sigma must unravel a threat that rises out of the distant past, to a time when Antarctica was green and all life on Earth balanced upon the blade of a knife. Following clues from an ancient map rescued from the lost Library of Alexandria, Sigma will discover the truth about an ancient continent, about a new form of death buried under miles of ice.

From millennia-old secrets out of the frozen past to mysteries buried deep in the darkest jungles of today, Sigma will face its greatest challenge to date: stopping the coming extinction of mankind. But is it already too late?

 

Review:

Reading a James Rollins is always a pleasure, he is an author who combines so many of my personal reading pleasures, there is the action of the story, the historic past of the back story, the familiar character of Sigma mixed with new faces, new bad guys(and girls) and a plot that is usually mind bogglingly twisty. Like all well told lies (according to the films/books) the best told lie or fiction, the one that people will really believe, is the one that contains as much truth as possible.

This is the true genius of James Rollins thrillers, the scope and depth of research is staggering, but then the author takes that, adds in his own knowledge and skills, and wraps it up in his… well,… convoluted mind is the only concept I can think to use and out comes a story, a story so crazy, so bizarre, yet so plausible that it scares the hell out of me reading it.

Each sigma tale shows how far mankind’s technological growth has outstripped its growth of morality, maybe, as part of the story shows we do need to reach for the immortality gene and live lives long enough to experience the folly of our mistakes and grab for profit over morality, to truly start to gain some wisdom and stop abusing the planet?

 

6th Extinction as with many Rollins tales leave me not wanting to talk too much about the plot, because to give anything away would be annoying as hell for me, so I won’t do it to another. I did however find that tied around all of the fantastic plot, and world ending disasters there was also a great deal of personal plot and growth for Sigma characters, the continual integration of the new with Jason, who continues to grow into a sigma star of the future, old favourites in Monk and of course Kowalski (also a surprise cameo of some really old characters). The most I will give you in overall plot summary is, it gets very Hot, it gets very cold, it’s got fantastic creatures that boggle the mind and kill with impunity and a plot that will chill the blood.

As ever with all of James Rollins books, for anyone who is an avid reader you will know that the characters are real, they are not some two dimensional construct on paper, you the reader bleed with them, hurt with them, cry with them. He has a truly amazing gift to suck the reader into the tale and the lives of those in the book. Also unlike many thrillers, anyone could die, and yet if the main characters survive it’s not because of some unbelievable herculean character it’s because of a skill built up over the story and previous books in the series, the group survive as a group because of shared skills and experience and teamwork. It all lends a layer of credibility and reality to the plot that is missing in so many other thrillers of this type.

 

I really do think that this is James Rollins most terrifyingly real, mind bending-ly plausible tale to date, I wonder what on earth could come next. I know I look forward to it immensely.

 

(Parm)

 

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Chris Kuzneski: The Forbidden Tomb (Review)

Chris Kuzneski

Chris K

USA (1969 – )

Click to go to Author Website
Chris Kuzneski attended the University of Pittsburgh, where he played football, wrote for three newspapers, and passed most of his classes. He earned a master’s degree in teaching, then taught English for five years before pursuing a career in writing. His first novel, THE PLANTATION, introduced the characters of Payne and Jon
e

The Forbidden Tomb

Forbidden

THE HUNTERS

If you seek, they will find…

The treasure:

For over two thousand years, the legendary tomb of Alexander the Great – and the riches concealed within – has evaded discovery. Now, after centuries of searching, an ancient map has come to light that could hold the key to finding the fabled vault. Only one team has the skill and the expertise to solve the mystery once and for all.

The mission:

It’s up to The Hunters – an elite group assembled to track down the world’s greatest treasures – to find the tomb. But on arriving in Alexandria, it quickly becomes clear that hostile forces are on their trail. And when one of the team is captured in cisterns deep below the city, what began as a treasure hunt becomes a deadly rescue mission.

For there are some who will use any means possible to destroy The Hunters’ efforts, and now there is more at stake than they ever could have imagined.

High-octane action. Brilliant characters. Classic Kuzneski.

Review

My first taste of Chris Kuzneski’s work was last years The Hunters , I’m always on the lookout for another great thriller writer, James Rollins, Andy McDermott and co can only turn out so many books a year, after that its the cheesy end of the market, the Dan Brows etc. So finding that the Hunters was not just good, but brilliant was as much a relief as it was a revelation.

In book two “The Forbidden Tomb” we see the return of the excellent, multi-layered and utterly human characters created in book one. A complex team, compiled from each needed skill set for the first mission, and just as apt for this new mission. As such we are treated to another search for the impossible, a hunt to find something lost and no real clues to its location, in this case the Tomb of Alexander the Great. But as i have come to expect in any book of this type, all is not what it seems. Why has the tomb never been found? Why are there so few clues? Is someone protecting the history of Alexander and his Tomb? Who? What? Why? I love the stream of unknown. Read the book and find out! (i cannot give any more away)

For me i found the story breathtaking (i’m a huge fan of Alexander the great and stories about him). The plot isn’t just a balls out action thriller, it has more intelligence than that, it has the ability to keep you guessing all the way to the end. This book has so many twists and turns you just don’t want to put the book down. I think this is the first book in years that has made me physically sit bolt upright and exclaim out loud “No F….ing way!” I take my hat off to you sir, that part of the plot took real balls, i was shocked, surprised, amazed, appalled and yet transfixed by the incident with Jasmine.

This book is truly an action packed thinking mans thriller, with a plot that spans the centuries and is packed with more surprises than is good for the heart. Loved it, and already cannot wait for the next one. I really do promise to make time to read the Payne and Jones series, which if its even half as good, is going to be worth making the time to read.

Highly recommended

(Parm)

Payne and Jones

1. The Plantation (2000)
2. Sign of the Cross (2006)
3. Sword of God (2007)
4. The Lost Throne (2008)
5. The Prophecy (2009)
6. The Secret Crown (2010)
7. The Death Relic (2011)
8. The Einstein Pursuit (2013)
Slipcase: Sign of the Cross / Sword of God / Lost Throne(omnibus) (2011)
The PlantationSign of the CrossSword of GodThe Lost Throne
The ProphecyThe Secret CrownThe Death RelicThe Einstein Pursuit
 Hunters 
1. The Hunters (2013)  My blog and review for book 1
2. The Forbidden Tomb (2014)

The HuntersThe Forbidden Tomb

 

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Filed under Action/ Adventure Thrillers, Chris Kuzneski, Historical Fiction, Thrillers

J.T. Brannan : Extinction (review + Interview)

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JT Brannan is the Bradford-born author of Extinction, Origin and Stop at Nothing.

Trained as a British Army officer at Sandhurst, before deciding to pursue a writing career, he is a former national Karate champion and doorman.

He now writes full-time, and teaches martial arts in Harrogate, where he lives with his wife and two young children.

He is currently working on his next novel.

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 An extraordinary discovery in the Sahara desert will turn history on its head…

A series of unexplained phenomena create shockwaves across the globe – a huge religious statue moves its arm, and there’s a spate of floods and earthquakes. Many think it’s the end of the world…

Investigative journalist Alyssa Durham receives a call from an old friend claiming that these phenomena may not be entirely natural, but when he is assassinated in front of her, she finds herself on the run for her life.

Alyssa teams up with Jack Murray, a scientist from a secretive government research laboratory, to uncover the truth. But who wants them dead, and what are they trying to protect?

As chaos descends, Alyssa and Jack are drawn into a battle against an unknown enemy with the highest possible stakes, because one thing they’ve learnt is that nothing is safe from extinction..

Review

I had high hopes for this book and it didn’t let me down. When I first read the authors debut book Origin I found myself initially a little incredulous at the scope of the book. But then I re-read the book and found myself marvelling at the brass balls of the author, his ambition, drive and imagination to cover so many of the unanswered questions in the world, so many conspiracies under one book cover.

That however gave me a set of expectations for book 2, and initially my first read didn’t deliver that same ballsy scope, but then instead it delivered a quality thriller, and built to a world defining action packed book. One with great characters, ambitious global implications, high octane action and some very tight sparse fast paced writing.

As per book one JT Brannan keeps the reader guessing throughout the book, the edge of the seat action means that the book can easily be a single sitting read, 400 pages goes so fast. Its a real testament to the writing style, skill and the plot of the book.

I’m not going to explore the plot its self, the product description gives enough flavour, anymore is too open to spoilers. Suffice to say, nothing is as it seems, big brother is watching you, and nothing is to crazy and idea, it may just be true.

(Parm)

Q&A

Thank you for agreeing to answer some questions:

1: Book 1, what gave you the inspiration for such an insanely ambitious plot?

My agent asked me to come up with a high-concept thriller, and I remembered a story my wife and I had discussed one evening. We had been talking about advances in science, and wondering what effects this might have on a future society. How long could people live, after embracing genetic engineering, advanced medicine and nanotechnology? We decided that the most likely scenario would be that the rich – those who could afford it – would be the major beneficiaries, which might polarise society even more than it is today. What would result from such conflict? This discussion led me to develop a story which explored these ideas, but it was very much in the science fiction genre, and so the idea was shelved. But when my agent asked me for a unique, high-concept idea, I went back to this story and decided to twist it around and use it as the background for a contemporary action thriller. I’ve also always been interested in conspiracy theories, and I thought it might be fun to see if I could find links between any, in order to come up with a unique, all-encompassing conspiracy that could help to explain everything. Ambitious, as you say, but lots of fun!

2: After the high of book 1, book 2 is always a nail biter (congratulations on pulling it off) Was it hard having to start with new characters?

No, I really enjoyed it. It was a chance to explore different people with different ideas. In Extinction, neither Alyssa nor Jack have any sort of combat training, and I thought it would be interesting to see how these ‘non-professionals’ would cope when they’re hurled into a very dangerous environment. There’s a bit more of the ‘everyman’ about them than the characters in my first novel, and I think the result is really exciting. We really don’t know if they’re going to get through it or not.

3: What was the inspiration for book 2?

I’d read about HAARP (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program) whilst researching Origin, and although it didn’t make an appearance there, I was very interested in what I found out and wanted to use it in another story. Essentially, it is a huge antenna array in the Alaskan wilderness, used to examine the ionosphere for the purposes of research into radio communications, navigation, and so on. But there are some people who claim that it is really intended to be used by the US military as a ‘weather weapon’, an ultimate WMD that can destroy entire countries through deliberately causing natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis.

I was also reading a lot about Gaia theory, the earth’s ongoing history of mass extinction events, various beliefs in a natural destruction/regeneration cycle and so on.

When I was thinking about my second book for Headline, it occurred to me that these two things put together might make for quite an interesting conflict, and therefore gave me the background to Extinction.

4: Without giving away any plot for book 2, book 3 will require new characters. Have you thought about a series using a repeated character?

Yes I have! My agent and editor have both asked me to explore such a venture, and so I am developing an idea for an ongoing series right now. I can’t say any more about it yet, but watch this space!

5: Will we see any more Mark Cole? (for those who have not read Stop at Nothing, do so its fantastic, the American Bond)

If there is enough interest, I would love to. I already have ideas about other adventures for Mark Cole, so maybe one day!

6: If you had to sell Extinction in your own words…..

Extinction is a fast-paced, exhilarating rollercoaster ride of a thriller, which deals with the most terrifying threat of all – the complete eradication of life as we know it.

7: Do you have your own writing process?

Not really anything laid out in stone, as such. The only thing is that after the concept phase, I like to research everything and plan it all out in meticulous detail, before I write a word of the actual novel itself. As far as the writing goes, I write at whatever time of day I can fit it in, wherever I happen to be. Sometimes I write at the dining table in our conservatory, other times I write in the café at our tennis club, and other times I write on the sofa whilst my daughter watches cartoons next to me. I’ll try and write an average of 1000 words a day, but this can range from absolutely nothing, up to 10,000 words if things are really flowing. I try and be as flexible as possible, which is important with a family. If the sun’s out and it’s a lovely day, we’ll all go out somewhere and I’ll write some other time.

8: Any tips to pass on to an aspiring thriller writer?

I think reading a lot is very important. You have to really love the genre, know it inside and out. I don’t mean you have to know anything about the authors, or remember every name of every character they’ve ever written; it’s more about the feel of the genre, how to get those ‘hooks’ in, how to get a reader to keep reading. Reading thrillers and trying to identify what makes the good ones work so well is a large part of this.

I would also recommend reading works on structuring stories too, as I believe it is vital for novels in the thriller genre to be properly constructed. If you set something up, there has to be a pay-off later in the book for instance. If not, the reader is going to feel cheated in some way. You have to know where the story’s heading, or you won’t be able to layer things in throughout; the ending will just appear out of nowhere, and again the reader might well feel cheated. Story by Robert McKee is good one to start with on this topic. It’s written from a movie screenplay perspective, but the principles hold up just the same for novels.

Another thing is to write. Everything needs to be practised if you want to be good at it, and writing is no exception. There comes a time when all the reading has been done, all the research, all the theory. There’s only one thing left, and that is the actual writing itself!

9: Top 5 favourite books?

Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa, Clear and Present Danger by Tom Clancy, First Blood by David Morrell, Red Dragon by Thomas Harris, and The Running Man by Stephen King, writing as Richard Bachman.

 10: Book you wish you had written?

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming. Who wouldn’t want to have invented James Bond?

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Filed under Action/ Adventure Thrillers, J T Brannan, Thrillers

Alex Connor The Caravaggio Conspiracy (review)

Alex Connor

Alex connor

Alex Connor is also known as Alexandra Connor and she has written a number of historical novels. This is her first crime thriller. She is an artist, and has worked in the art world for many years. Alex is also a motivational speaker and is regularly featured on television and BBC radio. She lives in Sussex.

The Caravaggio Conspiracy (2014)
A novel by Alex Connor

Carvaggio

1608. Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, the greatest Italian painter of his day, is expelled from the Order of the Knights of Malta. Subject to a clandestine hearing, his crime remains a closely guarded secret.

2014. Two bodies are found in a London art gallery – stripped naked, necks bound with wire and legs obscenely contorted. They are twin brothers – successful art dealers – their brutal murder linked to the mysterious disappearance of two paintings by the master Caravaggio.

Investigators are confounded, and it falls to art expert Gil Eckhart to identify the killer before he slays again. But as the search for clues takes him from the glamorous skyline of New York to the fetid catacombs of Palermo, Eckhart finds that in the high-stakes world of art, good and evil are often tarred with the same, blood-soaked, brush.

Review

This book was a very pleasant surprise, far too often today thrillers are formulaic and predictable, the “bad guy” standing out by a country mile. Not the case in the clever well written interesting tale. The plot and the characters are extremely well written, very real and often very flawed, the true triumph of the book being Gil Eckhart, such a multi dimensional interesting lead character, but with a great supporting cast.

The back plot of Caravaggio provides an educational and illuminating setting both in the world of the art trade and also with the use of timeslip 1608 Europe.  I loved the idea of a long lost descendant suddenly appearing and throwing the art world into turmoil with the revelation that not one but two long lost master pieces could be about to resurface. The resulting appearance of an old Killer, many years silent is both disturbing and chilling, with some very cleverly derived murders.

The book sped by and entertained me immensely.I will be without doubt picking up the other books by this author, finding a good thriller writer is hard, finding a great one is nigh on impossible. (thanks Milo for this tip)

Highly recommended

(Parm)

Other Books by this author

The Rembrandt Secret (2011)
aka The Other Rembrandt
The Hogarth Conspiracy (2011)
aka Legacy of Blood
The Memory of Bones (2012)
Isle of the Dead (2013)
The Caravaggio Conspiracy (2014)

The Rembrandt SecretThe Hogarth ConspiracyThe Memory of BonesIsle of the DeadThe Caravaggio Conspiracy

Unearthing the Bones (2012)
Blood on the Water (2013)
The Forger, the Killer, the Painter and the Whore (2013)

Unearthing the BonesBlood on the WaterThe Forger, the Killer, the Painter and the Whore

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Filed under Alex Connor, Crime, Thrillers