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Category: Guest Reviewer Johnny

  1. Guest Reviewer Johnny's round up to March 2017

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    Guest Reviewer Johnny has been absent for a few months but he is finally back. It seems his usually scathing reviews are less harsh for the first quarter of 2017 and he actually rated 2 books with 4 stars, bearing in mind he has reviewed 150 plus books and only 4 of them rated as a 4 star)! SOme great sounding books on this list and some I will need to push further up the to read list!

    Jane Casey Let The Dead SpeakLet The Dead Speak by Jane Casey

     

    Johnny’s Rating: 4/5:

     

    Johnny’s Review: Yes, it's the fourth 5 star review in over 2 years and 150+ reviews! Absolutely cracking police procedural that begins with the police processing a murder scene where they find all the evidence they need, in fact everything, except the requisite corpse. The story moves along at breakneck pace and there are a multiplicity of suspects to choose from, but still no body.

     

    It would be remiss to outline the plot in detail but suffice to say that apart from the plethora of suspects there are multiple plot twists and a jaw dropping denoument. All the characters are very well drawn and the plot construction is perfect. At the risk of gushing, this is the best novel I've read in a long time and thoroughly recommended

  2. Guest Reviewer Johnny Rounds up December 15 - April 2016

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     It's been a while since Johnny has featured but it's time to do a mass catch up and round up his books from December 2015 right the way through to April 2016. As usual his average book rating tends to be middle of the road with a few exceptions. This time around his clear favourites seem to be Dark Matters by Michael Dow, The Dolphin by Craig Bennett Hallenstein, No One Knows by J T Ellison and finally Death in Profile by Guy Fraser-Sampson.

    Title: Point of Control by L J Sellers

    Johnny's Rating: 3/5

    Johnny's Review: L.J.Sellers is one of my favourite crime novelists, so it is disappointing to be less than fulsome in reviewing her latest tome. As usual it is well written, tightly plotted and very professional in its execution.

    Whilst reading I had two major problems with this book. The first is in the basic structure which is built around the main character, a female F.B.I. agent, who is described as " a high functioning sociopath". Having just watched Mr. Cumberbatch and Mr Freeman do their thing as Sherlock and Dr. Watson it is self evident that there must be a humanitarian foil to any respectable " high functioning sociopath" and there is no such character in the book to give it the necessary balance.

  3. Guest Reviewer Johnny’s Round - Up for November 2015

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    Guest Reviewer Johnny really didn't have much to shout about in November. Here is his round up for the month with the only book making any kind of impact being Numero Zero by Umberto Eco.

        

     

     The Angel by Mark Dawson

    Johnny’s Rating: 3/5

    Johnny’s Review: Pulsating thriller about co-ordinated terrorist attacks in London and the subsequent attempts to apprehend the perpetrators. There are many things to like about the book. It was very realistic and thrilling account of the build-up and execution of the attacks and, in general, well written and researched.  Characters, for the most part, were well drawn and realised with goodies and baddies suitably heroic or craven. Now comes the "but" for which you've been waiting. The book ends incredibly abruptly, almost as if a few chapters have been lopped off. Also the idea of a fifteen year old girl (no matter how well qualified) being roped in by British intelligence services stretches credulity to breaking point. That said, this is a very exciting read and resonates because of its close resemblance to real life events. A South American man shot dead by British authorities on the tube by mistake - a manic Muslim preacher with one eye and one hand? Yes you know who these people reference. With a properly structured, complete story this would merit five stars. As it is this is still recommended and well worth reading.

  4. Guest Reviewer Johnny's Book Round up for September and October 2015

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    Guest reviewer Johnny is back with a round up from September and October 2015.

         

    The Blissfully Dead by Louise Voss and Mark Edwards

    Johnny’s Rating: 3/5

    Johnny’s Review: This book is a bit of a curate’s egg, good in parts. The basic premise is the murder of girl fans of the latest boy band sensation and the subsequent police investigation. On the plus side there is decent plotting, some snappy dialogue and an exhaustive knowledge of social media platforms used by teenage girls. The hero is the usual good looking, tough but vulnerable copper- D.I. Lennon. His colleague, and rival, is the unlikely named D.I. Winkler and this is where the problems start. Whilst our hero is being, well heroic, in his pursuit of the killer the Winkler character, besides having a stupid name, is portrayed as a vain, ambitious and with the intellectual capacity of an ant, who inadvertently hinders the investigation at every stage. How anybody like that can rise to the rank of Detective Inspector seems very unlikely. This is a pity as some of the supporting characters are well drawn and believable, which makes the pantomime villain copper so jarring. My only other problem is that the book is by two authors and sometimes that is apparent as the styles may be complementary, but they are noticeably different. In conclusion a decent police procedural that is worth reading, but could, with a few tweaks, could have been very, very good.

  5. Guest Reviewer Johnny's Reviews from August 2015

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    I am beginning to look forward to these review round up's of Guest Reviewer Johnny more and more. It seems that he has yet again set his scathing tongue on a couple of books. My favourite this month is his line that a particular book has 'more holes than a colander'....say no more. Take a look below for his round up from August, it seems Linwood Barclay has made the worthy '5 star' review status so that's one I'll be pushing up my to-read list!

     

    Contract to Kill by Andrew Peterson

    Johnny’s Rating: 2/5

    Johnny’s Review: Action packed, gung-ho, jingoistic thriller. Yet another book set in the world of private military contractors, this is up to the minute as the villains are now North Korean gangsters and Mexican drug cartels. Lots of action, shooting and explosions but distinctly lacking in plot. As usual the good guys are all ex Special Forces with dazzling skills in all forms of combat and, of course, are virtually indestructible. The weaponry is, as in all books of this nature, described in mind numbing detail and the fact that the inevitable outcome of victory for the good guys and the American way make this fairly predictable fare.

    Not a bad book, a sort of Tom Clancy light; all the action, the obsession with weapons but without the plot. This will pass a couple of hours while you're waiting for your flight, but I'm sorry to say, little else to recommend it

    You Think You Know Me by Clare Chase

    Johnny’s Rating: 3/5

    Johnny’s Review: Well written, serviceable romantic mystery. If you're a fan of this genre then this book ticks all the relevant boxes. Tall, dark, mysterious stranger, somewhat predictably, is not what he seems. Mysterious death in the past is revisited and, again is not what it seems.  Clues are conveniently signposted for the plucky heroine and the conclusion ties up all the loose ends. This was a pleasant and very readable book.

    Broken Proimise by Linwood Barclay

    Johnny’s Rating: 5/5

    Johnny’s Review: Widowed reporter David Harwood returns from his job with the Boston Globe to his home town of Promise Falls. The object of the exercise is to spend more time with his nine year old son, be near his family and take up his old job as a reporter on the local newspaper. Needless to say things start to go wrong almost immediately. Murders, a stolen baby and assorted sub plots make for an absolutely superb thriller.

    Written like a cross between Raymond Chandler and Harlan Coben this is a book not to be missed.  Aa a story of small town America and the dysfunctional families within it this is outstanding, but it's real merit is the story. Very imaginative plotting, razor sharp dialogue and some cracking one liners make it compulsive reading. A suitably world weary hero, a well-drawn cast of baddies and losers and an ending that doesn't try to tie up every loose end make this an outstanding read. To top it all a last page hammer blow that I didn't see coming. The best I've read for a long time. I know, me, five stars, but trust me, it's worth it. Any criticism? Only that an author this good is really called Linwood Barclay, surely a nom de plume!

    The Treacherous Net by Helene Tursten

    Johnny’s Rating: 3/5

    Johnny’s Review: Enjoyable slice of Swedish noir, featuring detectives hunting for a serial killer and a couple of "New Tricks" style oldies trying to connect the murder of a father and son committed decades apart.

    Well plotted with believable characters and vivid descriptions of Goteberg and its surrounding countryside which, in all honesty, doesn't seem the most attractive of places. The basic premise of a murderer grooming victims on line is entirely plausible and well realised. The case investigated by the old codgers is also interesting and has a quite cleverly constructed resolution. .Although it does seem to be somewhat "tacked on" to the central narrative it does make a nice counterpoint to the main case.

    This is a good book and it seems that there is an insatiable demand for these downbeat, rather grim Scandinavian stories. If that is a genre you enjoy then this opus ticks all the requisite boxes.

    The Offering by Desiree Bombenon

    Johnny’s Rating: 1/5

    Johnny’s Review: Oh dear, regarding this offering I'm sorry to say that there is very little I can say that could be interpreted as positive. The plot about a kidnapping in Hawaii is perfunctory in the extreme and has more holes than a colander.

    The husband and wife team who set out to rescue the kidnapped family are mega rich philanthropists who help out when the police aren't making progress. Apart from being fabulously rich they are brilliant at everything and, of course, indestructible. Inevitably they swim rivers, climb mountains, fly helicopters and see off the baddies whilst suffering no life threatening injuries. Think a 21st century version of Hart to Hart and you will have the correct degree of banality. The denouement was clumsy and sufficiently ludicrous as to make no sense. Sorry to be unkind but, were it not for the fact that I was to review it, I would not have bothered reading to the end.

    Death of The Blue Flower by Roxann Hill

    Johnny’s Rating: 3/5

    Johnny’s Review: Interesting murder mystery set in northern Germany. The mystery concerns diamonds stolen in Nazi Germany during World War Two and the murder is of a very old lady in a modern day sanatorium who might hold the key to the current whereabouts of the gems.

    The main protagonists are unusual and interesting. Representing the goodies is an African/American female (with a past) working at the clinic and a policeman concluding a course of chemotherapy at the same institution. Ranged against them are big business interests who don't want old Nazi stories being raked over and a trio of three bizarre psychopaths hired as a hit squad by said businesses. The settings are unusual and interesting in northern German cities and a Hallig, evidently one of a number of small islands in the North Sea off the northern coast of Germany. The locations are well realised and the action rattles along at a good pace. Thank goodness the dynamic duo on the side of good are well described and don't fit into the usual indestructible mode, whilst the hit squad are vile characters with no redeeming features and therefore more interesting than the usual villains. A good book, and though I guessed the real villain well in advance of the denouement, this did not really detract from my overall enjoyment. Sufficiently different to be well worth a recommendation.

    Devoted In Death by J D Robb

    Johnny’s Rating: 3/5

    Johnny’s Review: Gripping, but not particularly original thriller, centring on the exploits of a Bonnie and Clyde type couple who go on a murderous spree as they progress from the Deep South to New York. The main emphasis thereafter is on the hunt for them by lead cop Eve Dallas and her team of detectives. For some reason the book is set in the mid 21st. century, which allows for more techie gadgets but really adds little to the story. On the plus side this is well written with plenty of good cop-speak some realistic dialogue and plenty of tension generated as time runs out for the cops and, more importantly, the latest victims being held by the killers.  Overall the author has done a good job with what, in effect, is a very slight story, so well worth a read.

    Are you Watching Me by Sinead Crowley

    Johnny’s Rating: 3/5

    Johnny’s Review: After a somewhat funereal start this turned into a well written thriller. The two female leads are well written but both suffer from the problem of being unremittingly dreary with their on-going personal problems. The thriller element of the story is believable and the conclusion is deftly handled. Perhaps the only criticism being the amount of exposition by one of the protagonists at the end to explain the various convolutions in the plot. It reminded me of Poirot explaining to the dim witted Captain Hastings how he had solved the case. That aside, a good, professionally handled thriller. Well worth a read.

  6. Guest Reviewer Johnny's reviews from July 2015

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    My Guest Reviewer Johnny (or my very own Simon Cowell as I like to think of him) has been very busy in July. His usual collection of short, sweet and sometimes shockingly funny reviews can be found below:-

    Oblivion by Arnaldur Indriason

    Johnny’s Rating: 3/5

    Johnny’s Review: Neatly told whodunit set in Iceland but the style could be said to be in the tradition of Nordic noir.

    Local cops deal with a battered body and on of their number also investigates the case of a missing girl dating back twenty years. The two investigations run parallel throughout the book and the juxtaposition is a device that works very well .The murder case is traced to an American military base in Iceland and the antipathy between the Icelandic and American communities is well handled.

    Little in the way of suspense but the solution to the two cases is well realised and this is a competent well written piece.

    The Collector by Anne-Laure Thieblemont

    Johnny’s Rating: 3/5

    Johnny’s Review: Thriller set in and around the  Parisian art world. A somewhat convoluted plot is rescued by an admirable expertise regarding the detailed workings of all the aspects of the arts business.

    Whilst I quite enjoyed the book, I'm sorry to say I found the heroine somewhat lacking in appeal. Nevertheless a book that will pleasantly while away a couple of hours on the beach

    Coercian by Tim Tigner

    Johnny’s Rating: 3/5

    Johnny’s Review: Cracking thriller which covers many locations, multiple slayings and a fair amount of torture - perfect bedtime reading. Despite some caveats a very enjoyable read. The hero is sufficiently indestructible and the baddies suitably nasty. The author seems to be well versed in the areas about which he writes and brings a degree of credibility to the proceedings.

    However it must be said that there are some plot contrivances and coincidences that send credibility well past breaking point. Nevertheless if you like all action thrillers this ticks all the boxes.

    The Flood by David Hewson

    Johnny’s Rating: 4/5

    Johnny’s Review: Pleasingly elliptical thriller set in Florence past and present. The protagonists are Pino Fratelli, a Florentine detective and Julia Wellbeloved, an English art historian.. Their attempts to catch a killer involve him doing the intuitive detecting and her the exposition, (so its Sherlock and Dr. Watson).

    Mostly the book is about Florence, but not the Ponte Vecchio  and the Uffizi, more the dark underbelly where the tourists don't go. As a hymn of praise to Florence and its history, mixed with a murder mystery it works very well. The historical detail is fascinating as the relationship between the mismatched couple. Very well written and highly recommended.

    Disposable Asset by John Altman 

    Johnny’s Rating: 3/5

    Johnny’s Review: Spy thriller involving lots of violence and multiple killings as a female agent is pursued across Russia after an assassination. The female in question survives under increasingly unlikely situations, but always with just enough ingenuity to make the storyline credible.

    The characters are, with the exception of Cassie, the female agent, somewhat stereotypical, but the descriptions of the action and the technology is very well done.  If you like fast paced, intricately potted thrillers with lots of violence, torture and endless mayhem this will tick all the boxes.

    Brother Can You Spare a Dime by Jack Martin

    Johnny’s Rating: 3/5

    Johnny’s Review: Somewhat unusual gangster thriller set in the 1920s . Concentrating on the period after the incarceration of Al Capone it features just about every gangster of the period. .Bonnie and Clyde, John Dillinger, Machine Gun Kelly and Baby Face Nelson all make appearances but the story revolves around an attempted assassination attempt on President FDR.

    Plainly we know that it can't succeed but there is enough detail about the period to maintain interest, and the story about J.Edgar Hoover and the precursor to the FBI is interesting.  The strange thing about the book is the hero, Agent Harry Bierce. The problem for me, from the start is that he seems to possess supernatural powers and by the conclusion it seems that might well be the case.

    Having said that, this odd period piece is very readable and is sufficiently different to pass a couple of hours pleasantly.

    The Price of Justice by Marti Green

    Johnny’s Rating: 3/5

    Johnny’s Review: Confident, accurate legal drama. Lawyer and investigator combine to prove innocence of an inmate on death row awaiting execution. Having experience in relevant subjects the legal and psychological aspects of the story are dealt with confidently and with expertise. Despite some plot convolutions, the identity of the guilty party was not too difficult to ascertain which, to an extent, dissipated the dramatic element of the story.

    Having said that, this is, of its type, a well-constructed, intelligently written and neatly concluded.. Recommended. 

    Tenacity by J S Law

    Johnny’s Rating: 3/5

    Johnny’s Review: Well-crafted thriller with a heroine, Royal Navy cop ,Danielle Lewis, investigating a suicide and murder. Most of the action takes place on a submarine and the claustrophobic atmosphere is well realised. There is a great deal to like about this book but, sorry to say, I found Ms. Lewis to be incredibly irritating central character. I appreciate her intransigent behaviour is explained clearly enough, but the fact that it continues from start to finish I found wearing.

    Definitely worth reading and if you can, unlike me, overlook the main protagonist's shortcomings, a satisfying whodunit. 

    Close Your Eyes by Michael Robotham

    Johnny’s Rating: 4/5

    Johnny’s Review: Another winner from Michael Robotham. As usual intricate plotting, superb dialogue and some cracking one-liners, interspersed with bouts of well realised violence.

    The pace never lets up and there is a superb conclusion that is both unexpected and poignant. Whilst reading the book I did have echoes of other very good crime novels, namely Thomas Harris's Red Dragon and Mark Billingham's Sleepyhead. In no way is this book derivative but it's a compliment to the author that his writing is up there with two of the most popular crime writers in the world. Don't miss this one; highly recommended.

    The Contractors by Harry Hunsicker

    Johnny’s Rating: 3/5

    Johnny’s Review: Exciting, violent and very readable thriller. The hero and heroine are the usual indestructible types with a range of skills guaranteed to overcome the bad guys.. This they do From Dallas to the Mexican border in a relentless chase across Texas.

    Some of the excesses of slaughter seem a little far fetched but the pace is such that credibility is readily suspended as they battle gangsters, corrupt cops and battalions of drug cartel hit men (and women).

    A real page turner which is lots of fun if you are prepared to suspend your critical faculties at some of the plot improbabilities.

    Dead Wrong by Helen H Durrant

    Johnny’s Rating: 4/5

    Johnny’s Review: Surprisingly enjoyable police procedural. Effective characterisation and plausible  dialogue and background make for an enjoyable read. This bodes very well for future outings for (the usual) mismatched coppers.  To be fair we are spared the usual cliches of the maverick cop with a drink problem etc.etc. The characters are surprisingly ordinary and much the better for it.

    Unusually I found little to criticise. The ending was a little peremptory and the  Detective Inspectors brief sexual peccadillo was more than a little unconvincing. That aside, a very assured debut and thoroughly recommended

  7. Guest Reviewer Johnny's reviews from June 2015

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    My guest reviewer  Johnny is the type of bloke that sums up a book in a few very short but eloquent sentences, for those of you that aren't aware. It seems his short and sweet (although sometimes scathing) reviews are very popular with his last post for June being read over 300 times in a couple of days. So I can now give you Johnny's June Book Reviews, and shockingly he has given not one but TWO books 5 stars. I'm shell shocked!! It seems Michael Robotham and Mark Billingham have swayed him to give full marks.  It seems that there are a few authors he recommends here although I must also add, that his last review's final line is brilliant!!!

    Time of Death by Mark Billingham

    Johnny’s Rating5/5

    Johnny's Review: It’s very heartening to see Mr. Billingham back at the top of his game.  The latest in the Tom Thorne series is another top notch read. Good storyline with an ingenious solution to a murder and, as always, cracking dialogue. Perhaps a little more sombre in mood as Thorne is placed in an alien environment - well Warwickshire - so the usual banter with his colleagues is absent until late on in the piece. Nevertheless this is the usual superb stuff; thoroughly recommended.

    Close Quarters by Adrian Magson

    Johnny's Rating : 4/5

    Johnny's Review: Fast paced thriller with plenty of action and violence. Very well researched with an in-depth knowledge of the political situation in Ukraine and Washington where the novel is set. Mr. Magson has written a well-crafted action thriller but with an acute understanding of the politics that drives the action. Highly recommended.

    Tightrope by Simon Mawer

    Johnny's Rating: 4/5

    Johnny's Review: A fine novel by an accomplished author. Difficult to classify, it is ostensibly a story about espionage and the main protagonist, Marian Sutro, but it is much more than that.

    Set during and after the war it is a character study of an extraordinary woman and her trials and tribulations. Mr Mawer writes with real insight and clarity about his characters and the intelligence community in general. A very well written book and highly recommended.

    Life or Death by Michael Robotham

    Johnny's Rating: 5/5

    Johnny's Review: Compelling, intricately plotted, multi-layered thriller. The initial premise, why would a prisoner escape on the last day of a 10 year sentence, is brilliantly realised as the narrative unfolds. The main protagonist, Audie Palmer is, thank goodness, not a Jack Reacher clone, but an ordinary man placed in an extraordinary scenario. To reveal plot details would be a disservice to such a well written book. I urge you to read this offering from Michael Robotham, quite the best thriller I've read in a very long time.

    Gumshoe by Rob Leininger

    Johnny's Rating: 4/5

    Johnny's Review: Of its type, this is an entertaining and amusing thriller. The Gumshoe of the title is Mort Angel who, in a midlife crisis, gives up his job with the IRS to become a P.I.. There's plenty of action and lots of jokes, many of which are actually funny.It's a good read and a pleasant way to while away a few hours, so yes, I'd definitely recommend it.  The "but" you've anticipated is that it is difficult to avoid comparisons with Harlan Coben's novels featuring Myron Bolitar, which it closely resembles.Needless to say, in that contest there is only one winner, but that is not to denigrate Rob Leininger's book, it's well worth a try.

    Flambe in Armagnac by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noel Balan

    Johnny's Rating: 3/5

    Johnny's Review: This is another in the series featuring wine expert Benjamin Cooker and his assistant Virgile. The formula doesn't vary from book to book. There’s a suspicious death which Benjamin proves to be murder and then using his brains to reveal the murderer, with Virgile providing the muscle, if necessary. It's a little like eating coq au vin…perfectly pleasant and well-constructed, if not particularly memorable. 

  8. Guest Reviewer Johnny: His book reviews from May 2015...

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    One of my guest reviewers Johnny is the type of bloke that sums up a book in a few very short but eloquent sentences. He tends to read a lot of books I wouldn't and although his reviews are short and sweet I like to feature them as a list rather than individually. He is also quite critical and he rarely scores a book 5/5, but that is actually something I love! Half the time I have to Google words he uses but that's what makes me happy. I love the fact that everybody has differing opinions and I am now eagerly waiting to see what he rates as 5 stars and then will pounce on a copy! For synopsis on the below books hit the image and the Amazon page will load will all the info you need. Here are his books reviews from May.

    The Jackdaw by Luke Delaney

     

    Johnny's Rating: 4/5

    Johnny's Review: Fourth in the Sean Corrigan police procedural series. Much to like in a pacey, gripping storyline complete with regulation gratuitous violence.

    Maverick detective with "personal issues present and correct, complete with criminal mastermind who can only be brought down by our hero.

    Despite  the somewhat clichéd story the book is very well written and Luke Delaney has a  good ear for realistic dialogue.

    So a very readable and gripping story that is recommended. My only criticism; I guessed the culprit well before Sean Corrigan did in the book.

    For a top notch copper to miss some fairly obvious clues was a bit puzzling!

    The Morgenstern Project by David Khara

    Johnny's Rating: 3/5

    Johnny's Review: Part of "The Consortium" thriller series featuring Mossad super agent Eytan Morgenstern. As  before the agent and his friends despatch battalions of villains with effortless ease whilst solving the riddle of why The Consortium is helping in the production of advanced prosthetics for use by the military.

    No don't ask, as before the plot and characters are just this side of completely barmy. The problem with a man so tough he makes Jack Reacher look  limp wristed is the certitude that he will prevail, no matter how unlikely the situation.

    Nevertheless, as in previous books it rattles along at a cracking pace and is actually well written with some smart dialogue. So yes, it's worth giving it a go, but just park your credulity before you start and it will while away a couple of hours quite entertainingly.

    Shadow Ritual by Eric Giacometti and Jacques Ravenne

    Johnny's Rating: 3/5

    Serviceable, proficient thriller in the same ethos as The Da Vinci Code, but slightly better written. The plot revolves around Freemasonry, magic elixirs and the like with a dash of the Knights Templar thrown in for good measure.

    Although there is plenty of action and gratuitous violence the authors have given themselves a problem regarding subject matter. The fact is, that by trying to explain arcane Freemason ritual and symbols they have , by necessity, been forced into a good deal of exposition as the general public are ill informed on the matter.

    Nevertheless, not a bad book with a hero and heroine who tick all the boxes in terms of brains and brawn and dastardly modern day Nazis (yes the usual Aryan brotherhood  story). If that's what you like you can do a lot worse than give this a try.

    Blood Relatives by Stevan Alcock

    Johnny's Rating: 3/5

    Johnny's Review: Unlike anything I've read before. The book deals with the growing up, and coming out, of a young, gay man in Yorkshire in the 1970s. Using the attacks of the Yorkshire Ripper as a background and counterpoint to the misadventures of young Ricky, its a book that cannot be conventionally categorised. Written entirely in what I presume to be a realistic Yorkshire dialect it covers a period I well remember, although the lives of the Yorkshire people bear no relation to anything I , as a soft southerner,  remember from that time.

     I can recommend this book as a well written story with good, appropriately foul mouthed, dialogue. Did I enjoy it? Up to a point , but the people, places and lifestyle described are so alien  that. In terms of commenting on veracity and verisimilitude, I'm about as qualified as I would be on whether an   Iain M .Banks  novel. is scientifically accurate.

    Mayhem in Margaux by Jean-Pierre Alaux

    Johnny's Rating: 3/5

    Johnny's Review: Another in the winemaker series. Continuing on with the successful format this episode sees our intrepid heroes dealing with a murder and a case of wine fraud i.e. relabeling as Bordeaux swelters in a heatwave.

    As usual the crimes are dealt with using minimal effort and Benjamin and Virgile close the case with minimal fuss. There is the usual avalanche of wine facts and interestingly the Margaux wines are given a good kicking,, especially Chateau Margaux.

    As before reading a book in this series is like putting on an old jumper, reassuring, comforting and not too challenging.

    The Last Moriarty by Charles Veley

    Johnny's Rating: 3/5

    Johnny's Review: Perfectly serviceable offering in the style of Conan Doyle with multiple clues, red herrings and a clever conclusion. Definitely keeps to the style of the original works and lots of good period detail and  a fluent prose style.

    My main problem is not with the book at all but with  the current TV series Sherlock. The fact that Messrs Gatiss and Moffat have dragged the franchise into the 21st.century made it difficult for me to accept what seemed an anachronistic step into the past.

    This is probably a defect on my part and I would certainly not want to denigrate the book which is a respectable and more than adequate addition to the genre.

    Paris Ransom by Charles Rosenberg

    Johnny's Rating: 4/5

    Johnny's Review: Enjoyable, pacey thriller set in the Parisian corridors of power. All the usual boxes are ticked, with the gendarmerie, intelligence services, shady Russian gangsters and venal French art dealers double crossing each other at every opportunity. Thoroughly entertaining if you ignore a couple of plot contrivances and an interesting stylistic device in having the plot driven forward from the point of view from several different characters,

    The author is thoroughly versed in the French police and legal systems and has written a very good thriller.

    Recommended as a very good thriller with authentic French settings and written with appropriate joie de vivre.

    The Harder They Come by TC Boyle

    Johnny's Rating: 4/5

    Johnny's Review: Very well written crime thriller by an obviously talented author.

    Yes, you can anticipate the "but" that is coming next. But the downside is that the characters are universally abhorrent with seemingly no redeeming characteristics between them. In fact I found them so unattractive I was hoping most of them a rapid end. Unfortunately that was not the case.

    Sorry to be so critical of an obviously gifted writer, but when  , as a reader, you can find no empathy with any of the participants in a story, then the reading experience is not likely to be  a happy one. Follow my blog with Bloglovin