When the daughter of prominent civil litigator Graham Hutchins is found with her throat slashed, the woman's spurned ex-boyfriend seems the likely suspect. But only days later, the young man dies in what appears to be a suicide. Or was it? Now authorities are faced with a possible new crime. And their person of interest is Hutchins. After all, avenging the death of his daughter is the perfect reason to kill. If he's as innocent as he claims, only one lawyer has what it takes to prove it: his friend and colleague Samantha Brinkman.
OK, groaner of a title. My apologies. But Marcia Clark's third Samantha Brinkman novel is indeed a decent listen but somewhat lacking in the crackling elements that made her first book excellent and her second book very good.
Defense attorney Sam is called in to defend a fellow lawyer who may be accused of murdering the college kid who may have murdered his daughter, a freshman at USC. Meanwhile, the cartel boss who has the goods on Sam asks for a favor that she cannot in good conscience grant.
The bulk of Snap Judgement is made up of the investigation of the two college deaths, the rest about Sam's conundrum over the favor she owes the cartel. That's two cases, far fewer than the earlier books, which had her juggling much more, adding nice layers of complexity to what is basically a legal procedural. No such complexity here. And sadly, as in entry #2, no courtroom action.
Ms. Clark, you listened to me when I asked after book 1 that you change narrators, and thank the stars that you did. Now, please, put Sam back in the courtroom and fill up her plate with more courses. TIA.
Seventy thousand years ago, the human race almost went extinct. We survived, but no one knows how.
Until now. The countdown to the next stage of human evolution is about to begin, and humanity might not survive this time. The Immari are good at keeping secrets. For 2,000 years, they've hidden the truth about human evolution. They've also searched for an ancient enemy - a threat that could wipe out the human race. Now the search is over.
In the category of speculative fiction about ancient mysteries, A.G. Riddle titularly tackles the Atlantis myth, marrying it with the Great Leap Forward in human evolution, the Toba catastrophe, ancient aliens, Nazi eugenics, Tibetan monks, the Spanish flu pandemic, corporate conspiracies, 9/11, autism -- in other words, the kitchen sink. In service of all of these sub-plots are dozens and dozens of characters, most of them undeveloped cardboard cutouts, a few merely underdeveloped.
This is a first novel that clocks in at nearly 16 hours, even though much of its research comes word for word from Wikipedia entries (and is repeated several times over). Maybe at nine hours, with a focus on the most interesting McGuffin (Toba and the Great Leap, even if it is not scientifically accepted), and the perspective of one or two or three protagonists, Riddle (and his negligent or perhaps absentee editor) may have had a worthy novel that sold itself instead of having to be so relentlessly marketed. As is, count me out of the rest of the series.
One minute Jake O'Connell is on top of the world, with a beautiful family and bright future as a stock broker in New York; the next it's all ripped away when he's embroiled in a fraud investigation, his childhood friend is murdered, and he finds himself on the run. Dodging the FBI and targeted by the Mob, Jake is thrown into a Wall Street underworld of crypto currencies and autonomous corporations, where he discovers a dark secret setting the world on a path to destruction.
Matthew Mather's Cyberstorm envisioned the survival tale that might result if New York City was hit simultaneously by a massive cyberattack and a huge winter storm. Darknet imagines a different kind of Cyberstorm, where a computer-based artificial intelligence storms the internet and begins to take over financial markets and political institutions.
Unless you really know your tech, Darknet is likely to scare your pants off in terms of network vulnerabilities, to the point where (as the book begins) the Dark Web hosts an assassin's market where real lives are placed on the line for crowdfunding and online betting. And the dark side of cryptocurrency is presented as another cause for concern. There's more, highly relevant in light of the 2016 election, highly prescient considering this was written in 2015.
These issues are presented in the context of a serviceable thriller in which several characters work together to try to stop the AI from taking over the cyberworld, a classic double chase made complex by the villain being an omniscient and seemingly omnipotent computer presence. The only real problem with this story is the abrupt ending, which is as much as I will say to avoid spoilers. But overall, a story that is merely serviceable in service of issues that are majorly relevant -- and scary.
Fresh off their successful quest to thwart not one, but two diabolical plots to destroy the world, jaded reporter Christine Temetri and rough cherub Mercury find that mysterious powers outranking even the Heavenly bureaucracy seem intent on keeping the Apocalypse on track. Mercury Rises continues author Robert Kroese’s tale of the heroic cherub Mercury, who is generally well-intentioned, rarely well-behaved, and always well-armed with a droll remark. While the world is plagued by natural disasters and nations.
End times reporter Christine is back and (eventually) teams up again with rogue angel Mercury to save the world a second time from Lucifer and other wayward and sundry heavenly beings. If you haven't read Mercury Falls, the first entry in this series, you could theoretically read this book all the same, but in addition to getting the full back story, I'd recommend Falls just because it's a better book with a better story and better jokes.
Rises is not nearly as focused story-wise -- I don't think it really gels until near the end -- and it takes at least half the book for Christine to reunite with Mercury, much to the detriment of the reader, given their chemistry as a duo. Robert Kroese also forgoes most of his spiritual musings and mythological meanderings, which made Falls that much more interesting. I will give the series another go just in case this is a one-off dip.
I wonder if Kroese has considered suing Fox for ripping him off in the show Lucifer. Sure, Kroese cannot lay claim to making heaven a bureaucracy and using angels and demons as characters, but in this book, Cain (Adam and Eve's fratricidal eldest) is cursed forevermore with immortality and longs for nothing more than death -- exactly what they did with Cain in Lucifer last season.
How did Lev Calder move from an unwillingly escaped Tithe to a clapper? In this revealing short story, Neal Shusterman opens a window on Lev’s adventures between the time he left CyFi and showed up at the Graveyard. Pulling elements from Neal Shusterman’s critically acclaimed Unwind and giving hints about what is to come in the riveting sequel, UnWholly, this short story is not to be missed.
Filling in the back story of Lev Calder, Unstrung is a good little story. You really have to have read some or all of the Unwind series to appreciate it properly. Worthwhile for completists, others should at least have read Unwind.
In the follow-up to best-selling Blood Defense, Samantha is hired as the legal advocate for Cassie Sonnenberg after a brutal stabbing left her father and brother dead, and her mother barely clinging to life. It's a tabloid-ready case that has the nation in an uproar - and Sam facing her biggest challenge yet. Why did Cassie survive? Is she hiding something?
Good news: If you haven't read Blood Defense, Sarah Brinkman #1, no sweat, everything you need to know is here. Carryover story lines are well summarized and new story lines dominate the main plot and some sub-plots. More good news: Moral Defense is, as a whole, somewhat better than its predecessor, although it still feels like no more than a slightly above average episode of a TV legal drama.
But the best news of all: We got a new narrator! Look at reviews of Blood Defense, even people like me who liked it had a huge problem with the narrator. I was not going to continue the series if she returned. She doesn't. But when I saw Angela Dawe, I recalled another book where she was a problem as narrator,. But I did some research and felt that the director was at fault, not her. Now I'm proven right, as her narration here, while no great shakes, is at the very least OK.
The main story line is the mass slaying of a family in their home, possibly perpetrated by their adopted teenage daughter, possibly by one of several other suspects with various beefs against them. Samantha, representing the daughter, soon learns that her story hits home with a traumatic part of her own past (not going to tell you what that is to avoid spoilers). Meanwhile, as in any good legal thriller, other cases weave in and out, sometimes dovetailing with each other, sometimes acting as red herrings.
My only criticism is the lack of courtroom drama. Sam solves this case before it gets to trial. Given Marcia Clark's highly public real-life courtroom drama as lead prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson trial, I felt her authority in the courtroom sequences of Blood Defense and would have liked to see that here. Still, good legal drama, better narrator. Go for it, glad I did.
Christine Temetri is at her wits’ end. For years she’s covered the increasingly bizarre activities of End Times cults for the Banner, a religious news magazine. Yet Christine, who once dreamed of being a "real" writer, has nothing to show for the gig other than a regular paycheck and serious doubt that Armageddon will occur in time for her next deadline. But after a mysterious man entrusts her with a locked briefcase and orders to "take it to Mercury", Christine finds herself face-to-face with a ping-pong-playing angel by the name of Galileo Mercury.
The apocalypse is near and only a reporter, a renegade angel, and the antichrist can stop three different factions of angels and demons from carrying it out for their own nefarious purposes. Robert Kroese has imagined a universe in which Earth is on the Mundane Plane, infested with meddling beings from other divine planes of existence. The reporter, who specializes in doomsday cults, teams up with Galileo Mercury, a slacker angel gone rogue, to save the antichrist, a dimwitted gamer who lives in his mother's basement, whose death would trigger armageddon.
Funny stuff. Yes, doomsday, apocalypse, armageddon, world destruction -- funny. In the hand of Kroese. This is played for fun and laughs, and played well. Kroese has a deft touch as a humorist, keeping things light, fast, and chuckleworthy. I personally love the pop culture references, especially the pop-rock music references. I will most definitely be listening to the remainder of this series, currently five volumes strong. In fact, having read and liked three Kroese titles at this point, I will continue to sample his wares without reservation.
My only warning is this: Kroese begins every other chapter or so with ruminations about various religious or spiritual topics. The primary aim to generate laughs -- intellectual laughs -- but it may not dovetail with your own sensibilities. Me, it was unimportant whether I agreed with him, more important that he successfully advanced the story and the humor even if I disagreed.
Sometimes the worst storms aren't from Mother Nature, and sometimes the worst nightmares aren't the ones in our heads. Mike Mitchell, an average New Yorker already struggling to keep his family together, suddenly finds himself fighting just to keep them alive when an increasingly bizarre string of disasters starts appearing on the world's news networks. As both the real world and the cyber world come crashing down, bending perception and reality, a monster snowstorm cuts New York off from the world, turning it into a wintry tomb where nothing is what it seems.
The residents of a Chelsea building band together to deal with the dual impact of a cyber-attack that cripples New York City's power, communications, and public services infrastructure, and a series of massive snow storms that compounds these problems and takes out all transportation options.
The most important consideration for a potential listener: this is NOT at all about the technicalities of the cyber-attack, it is all about survival in a world suddenly devoid of everything we rely upon -- no heat, no food or water, no electricity, no cars or trains, no nothing. And the most interesting aspect of that story is human nature -- the courage of some, the cowardice of others; community and the instinct to help others vs. predation and the instinct to prey upon others; ingenuity, facing your fears, fighting for you family and friends.
I live in NYC and was in the power outage zone for a week in the aftermath Hurricane Sandy, and while that was tragic for some and inconvenient for others (like me), the situation in Cyberstorm is Sandy times ten, times a hundred. Nevertheless, I experienced the goodness of people that emerged during that crisis, so I appreciate Matthew Mather's desire to show that side of humanity when it would have been easier to just show people at their worst (which is here as well).
The writing and story telling are not perfect, and you could poke holes in some of the speculations of what would happen, but overall, an interesting book with some very good ideas.
Beau Phillips was an insider and occasional accomplice who witnessed the legends of classic rock in their heyday and takes listeners inside the dressing rooms, hotel suites, and private planes of Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, and dozens more to enjoy funny, decadent, and never-been-told stories of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. The book's foreword was written by Sammy Hagar, former lead singer for Van Halen.
Beau Phillips recounts his many anecdotes of dealing with classic rock's biggest stars during his years as an FM radio DJ and VH1 executive. In the title story, for example, he tells how he borrowed Pink Floyd's giant pig prop for a radio promotion, lost it, and then damaged it in recovering it. He embarrassed himself in front of Robert Plant and Dicky Betts, embarrassed Ann Wilson of Heart, and won over Pete Townsend, among many other tales.
Whether you'll like this begins with whether you like classic rock. You don't have to like all the artists he talks about -- I don't care for AC/DC, but his AC/DC story is a good one (if true). But if you don't at least know who he's talking about, this won't work for you. Even if you do, you may not find his stories to be serious enough -- you'll hear about how Led Zep liked to throw TVs out of hotel windows, but you won't get any deeper than that. And in his zeal to tell you how much he hates disco, Phillips has unfortunately missed the racial element of the disco record burning fiasco.
On the other hand, when you hear what Paul McCartney did for a Make a Wish teen that Phillips brought to him, you may feel differently about him than you ever did before.
Overall, I believe Phillips had an opportunity to write an important book about rock music, but chose instead to write a fun book. As an FM DJ and program director, he has inside information about how rock radio helped make or break artists, and how that changed with the advent of the internet. He discusses that in his epilogue. I would have loved the entire book to be about that. Led Zep's TV fetish means nothing and has been told elsewhere -- I much prefer hearing the story of how rock radio broke out Bon Jovi, AC/DC, Pat Benatar and the like. I want more of that.
Still, for a fan, good stuff.
Can two people who have never met make a marriage work? Popular dating site Sociality thinks so, and is marrying London lad Adam to California girl Jessica to prove it. What better way to show that your 'love algorithms' work than to put two complete strangers together in an expensive publicity stunt? But, as livewire Jess and lazybones Adam quickly discover, just because a computer says you're the perfect match, it doesn't make it so!
Buttoned up English video game reviewer Adam and transplanted Californian graduate student Jessica are the dubious winners of a contest on an online dating site in which they agree to marry despite having never met before. Comic hi-jinks ensue as the couple decide whether they really want to be married.
The formula is now familiar to a four-time reader of Nick Spalding: a contrived situation brings two people together to deal with each other and the humorous fall-out of their predicament, told in first person in chapters alternating between the two points of view (in audio, narrated by two different people).
Whether this works depends wholly on how fresh Spalding can make these familiar situations. In Mad Love, the set pieces have all been done before -- drunk vicar presiding at their wedding, head stuck in a railing, valuable car rolling driverless down a hill toward its destruction, etc. You've heard all these jokes. What sets it apart, what makes it worthwhile, are the characters, which (almost miraculously) are well drawn, sympathetic despite their ceaseless bickering, and worth rooting for (the narrators deserve a lot of credit for this).
Three of the four Spalding titles I've read have been entertaining, one fell flat, the latter because the characters were unsympathetic. Whether you feel the same way will depend on which way you react to Adam and Jessica. I liked them, so I liked this book.