Monday, August 5, 2013

Thriller Week - The King by Steven James and A Tap on the Window by Linwood Barclay

Last week/week-end when I ran out of gigs on my Verizon mifi, I had to go offline for 4 days. Fortunately there were lots of books to keep me going. I ended up craving thrillers and found some good ones, started some duds. You won't see the duds here because there is just way too little time to waste on books not being enjoyed much less to for the abundance of great reads out there.

The King
James, Steven
Signet 2013

After meeting his fiancee Lien-hua Jiang, an FBI profiler, for a picnic dinner in a park, Patrick Bowers and his step-daughter Tessa leave not knowing a serial killer is lurking in Lien-hua’s car. The resourceful Lien-hua fights  Basque when he starts to carve her up and manages to escape but is hit by a car. As she lies in intensive care, Pat, who is an expert in geospacial intelligence, uses his skills to track Richard Devin Basque, a hideous killer who ate parts of his victims when they were still alive, who he had arrested fourteen years earlier but had been released from prison. Meanwhile a vicious couple witnesses a man commit suicide and then torture another with pruning sheers. This fast moving combination of searches for a serial killer and an international drug counterfeiting ring is unputdownable. Even thought it is the seventh in the Bowers Files series, expert character building and the smooth integration of the backstory make this an addicting book that will have readers wanting to read the rest of the series.

A Tap on the Window

Barclay, Linwood
NAL 2013
On a rainy evening, private detective Cal Weaver is stopped at a traffic light near Patchett’s, the local dive that has no reluctance to serve underage drinkers, when a teenage girl taps on his window and asks for a ride. She says her name is Claire and that she knew his son Scott who had died two months earlier. Against his better instincts he agrees to give her a ride home. On the way she demands he pull into a little fast food joint because she is going to be sick. After waiting some time for her he goes in looking for her but doesn’t find her. Upon returning to his car he finds her already there but as they are driving away he realizes she is no longer soaked to the skin and that a nasty scratch on her arm is gone. When interrogating her to what is happening she threatens to jump from the moving car so he lets her out. Later a cop shows up at his house questioning him about the disappearance of the mayor’s daughter, Claire. Cal and his wife are losing each other as they grieve for their son. Cal loses himself in investigating the case of the missing girl whose father claims is not missing. Barclay demonstrates his mastery of pacing, accelerating the action while revealing the essence of the characters. Underlying everything is the conflict between Cal's brother-in-law who is the chief of police and the mayor who are at odds. The conflict over whether the cops are over reaching by acting as judge, jury, and executioner (of sentences not individuals) has polarized the town. Cal is growing ever more distant from his wife who spends all her time drawing portraits of their son as he goes close to the edge in trying to discover who gave his son the drugs that were in his system when he took the plunge to his death. More Linwood Barclay thrillers are in my future.

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