Let’s break up my review of last year’s reading along genre lines. First up, suspenseful novels or thrillers!
Dexter (Jeff Lindsay)
Darkly Dreaming Dexter / Dearly Devoted Dexter / Dexter in the Dark
I caved and started power watching Dexter on Netflix earlier last year and had a blast with it. Michael C. Hall is spectacular as Dexter, the serial killer with rules. Consequently, I couldn’t resist checking out the source material. The books are good. I’ve enjoyed every one I’ve read so far. That being said, Dexter on celluloid will likely satisfy any and all interest in this subject matter! Nevertheless, the books will entertain. Where the TV Dexter is smooth and has it together, the literary Dexter is a bit more edgy and gives you the feeling of someone about to lose control. Jim’s score: B.
Jason Bourne (Robert Ludlum)
The Bourne Identity / The Bourne Supremacy / The Bourne Ultimatum
I read these 20+ years ago with many other Ludlum novels and watched the original mini-series with Richard Chamberlain as Bourne and Jaclyn Smith as Marie. They came up in the library so I decided to give them a re-read to see how well they have aged. The novels are dated but enjoyable, particularly for anyone who grew up in the 70s and 80s with a fondness for cloak and dagger stories. If your first experience reading these novels is after watching the movies starring Matt Damon as Bourne, you may be disappointed. The ‘reimagined’ movies are but loosely based on the source material and the plots of the 2nd and 3rd movies have nothing to do with the novels of the names they bear. Jim’s score: B (A for Identity with the sequels trending to the low B range).
Virgil Flowers (John Sandford)
Sandford’s 3rd entry in the series is as solid as the previous two. Flowers is as unorthodox as ever. Jim’s score: B+.
Harry Bosch (Michael Connelly)
Switchblade / The Burning Room
Switchblade is a Bosch short story while The Burning Room is a full length novel. Here’s the thing with Connelly … he’s a great crime writer. I’ll continue to read what he publishes because I enjoy his writing style and his stories. But … what he has written recently does not hold a candle to the early Bosch novels. I happily read (and enjoyed) the new Bosch material since the library carried it. Harry is edging ever closer to retirement and playing it safer and safer as his time with Open/Unsolved draws to a close. Go read The Black Echo, The Black Ice and The Concrete Blonde. Avoid the later material until you’ve read these … that is the real Harry Bosch! Jim’s score: C+.
Kidd & LuEllen (John Sandford)
The Fool’s Run / The Empress File / The Devil’s Code / The Hanged Man’s Song
Before Davenport and Flowers, there was Kidd. These are fun romps with Kidd as a computer hacker and LuEllen as a cat burglar. There are only four books in the series and no new books are expected in the future. The tech is so 90s! Jim’s score: B.
Jack Reacher (Lee Child)
Not a Drill / Personal
Not a Drill (short story) and Personal (novel) are new stories in the Reacher canon. Like Connelly’s handling of Bosch, Child takes fewer risks with Reacher as each new story is published. These stories are fine for Reacher fans but go read Killing Floor, Die Trying and Tripwire if your are new to Child/Reacher. Jim’s score: B-.
The Bat (Jo Nesbo)
The Bat is the first entry in the Harry Hole series by Norwegian crime writer, Jo Nesbo. Harry travels to Australia to unravel the death of a Norwegian citizen. Jim’s score: B.
The Cuckoo’s Calling (Robert Galbraith aka J. K. Rowling)
J. K. Rowling works at distancing herself from her Harry Potter legacy with a conventional mystery/detective novel. All-in-all, a very ho-hum affair. Jim’s score: C.
Mitch Rapp (Vince Flynn)
Transfer of Power / The Third Option / Separation of Power
If you are a fan of Clancy’s books or Jack Reacher (Lee Child) or Will Robie (David Baldacci) or cloak and dagger, go read these books. They are are a blast! Jim’s score: A.