Review: THE FORCE by Don Winslow (Harper Collins/William Morrow)

WinslowD-TheForceUKPossibly the best thriller (or novel) of the year?

Everyone can be bought. At the right price…

Detective sergeant Denny Malone leads an elite unit to fight gangs, drugs and guns in New York. For eighteen years he’s been on the front lines, doing whatever it takes to survive in a city built by ambition and corruption, where no one is clean.

What only a few know is that Denny Malone himself is dirty: he and his partners have stolen millions of dollars in drugs and cash. Now he’s caught in a trap and being squeezed by the Feds, and he must walk a thin line of betrayal, while the city teeters on the brink of a racial conflagration that could destroy them all.

Don Winslow’s latest novel is a haunting story of greed and violence, inequality and race, and a searing portrait of a city on the edge of an abyss. Full of shocking twists, this is a morally complex and riveting dissection of the controversial issues confronting society today.

The Force is the first of Winslow’s novels that I’ve read. It will definitely not be the last. There was a lot of pre-publication buzz surrounding this novel, and I can certainly now see why: it’s superb. On almost every level, this novel is a triumph. Continue reading

Review: DON’T LOOK FOR ME by Mason Cross (Orion/Pegasus)

CrossM-4-DontLookForMeUKAn excellent fourth Carter Blake novel

Don’t look for me.

It was a simple instruction. And for six long years Carter Blake kept his word and didn’t search for the woman he once loved. But now someone else is looking for her.

He’ll come for you.

Trenton Gage is a hitman with a talent for finding people — dead or alive. His next job is to track down a woman who’s on the run, who is harbouring a secret many will kill for.

Both men are hunting the same person. The question is, who will find her first?

I loved the first three novels in Cross’s Carter Blake series. They could be seen as an opening trilogy, and after that story’s explosive ending, I wondered where Cross would take his character in the future. In Don’t Look For Me, the author adjusts the focus a bit, and gives readers a smaller-scale story that is no less gripping and enjoyable. Continue reading

Review: ACADIE by Dave Hutchinson (Tor.com)

HutchinsonD-AcadieA very cool sci-fi mystery

The first humans still hunt their children across the stars…

The Colony left Earth to find their utopia–a home on a new planet where their leader could fully explore the colonists’ genetic potential, unfettered by their homeworld’s restrictions. They settled a new paradise, and have been evolving and adapting for centuries.

Earth has other plans.

The original humans have been tracking their descendants across the stars, bent on their annihilation. They won’t stop until the new humans have been destroyed, their experimentation wiped out of the human gene pool.

Can’t anyone let go of a grudge anymore?

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Acadie. I’ve only heard great things about Hutchinson’s Fractured Europe trilogy, so I had pretty high hopes for this stand-alone novella. I’m happy to report that it exceeded my expectations, and was a lot of fun. I think a lot of people are going to love this. Continue reading

Review: TROPIC OF KANSAS by Christopher Brown (Voyager)

brownc-tropicofkansasusA terrifyingly realistic dystopian novel

The United States of America is no more. Broken into warring territories, its center has become a wasteland DMZ known as “the Tropic of Kansas.” Though this gaping geographic hole has no clear boundaries, everyone knows it’s out there — that once-bountiful part of the heartland, broken by greed and exploitation, where neglect now breeds unrest. Two travelers appear in this arid American wilderness: Sig, the fugitive orphan of political dissidents, and his foster sister Tania, a government investigator whose search for Sig leads her into her own past — and towards an unexpected future.

Sig promised those he loves that he would make it to the revolutionary redoubt of occupied New Orleans. But first he must survive the wild edgelands of a barren mid-America policed by citizen militias and autonomous drones, where one wrong move can mean capture… or death. One step behind, undercover in the underground, is Tania. Her infiltration of clandestine networks made of old technology and new politics soon transforms her into the hunted one, and gives her a shot at being the agent of real change — if she is willing to give up the explosive government secrets she has sworn to protect.

As brother and sister traverse these vast and dangerous badlands, their paths will eventually intersect on the front lines of a revolution whose fuse they are about to light.

As the news is filled with stories of creeping fascism, an increase in the militarization of police forces, and a “fortress America” mentality settling in for those on the right (although, mostly, it’s anyone who voted for Donald Trump), this novel feels frighteningly realistic. It is also very good. Continue reading

Upcoming: THE TWO OF SWORDS, Vols.1-3 by K.J. Parker (Orbit)

ParkerKJ-TwoOfSwords-Vols.1to3

The Two of Swords has already been serialized over the past couple of years (not sure if it’s finished?). I’ve tried the first part, but I decided I wanted to wait for more of it to be available before diving in properly. I’ve often had mixed feelings about Parker’s work, but after reading the superb The Devil You Know and also The Last Witness, I want to read more of his stuff. Anyway, here’s the synopsis for Volume 1:

“Why are we fighting this war? Because evil must be resisted, and sooner or later there comes a time when men of principle have to make a stand. Because war is good for business and it’s better to die on our feet than live on our knees. Because they started it. But at this stage in the proceedings,” he added, with a slightly lop-sided grin, “mostly from force of habit.”

A soldier with a gift for archery. A woman who kills without care. Two brothers, both unbeatable generals, now fighting for opposing armies. No-one in the vast and once glorious United Empire remains untouched by the rift between East and West, and the war has been fought for as long as anyone can remember. Some still survive who know how it was started, but no-one knows how it will end.

The Two of Swords is the story of a war on a grand scale, told through the eyes of its soldiers, politicians, victims and heroes.

The series is published by Orbit Books in the US and UK, in October, November and December.

Also on CR: Reviews of The Devil You Know and The Last Witness

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Interview with DALE LUCAS

LucasD-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Dale Lucas?

Since ‘International Man of Mystery’ is taken, I guess I’ll settle for Connoisseur of All Things Geek and globe-trotting bon vivant. I’m a pretty typical nerd who grew up skinny and pale, subsisting on a steady diet of genre films, Ace paperbacks, comic books and brain-rotting cartoons. These days, I write stories between 9 to 5 shifts at a day job, gobble books, enable my foodie impulses and, when able, travel. I can also mix a pretty mean Old Fashioned.

Your new novel, The Fifth Ward: First Watch, will be published by Orbit in July. It looks rather fun: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

It’s most definitely the starting point for a series! My standard pitch is: it’s Lord of the Rings meets Lethal Weapon. Or, if you prefer, The Wire in Middle Earth. Basically, I just took all of the buddy cop movies I grew up watching — Lethal Weapon, 48 Hours, Running Scared — and even hard-edged police procedurals like NYPD Blue, and set one of those stories about combative partners out for justice in a teeming urban jungle in a classic, pre-industrial fantasy city full of humans, dwarves, elves and orcs. Continue reading

Interview with ANNA SMITH SPARK

anna-smith-spark-author-photo-1Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Anna Smith Spark?

I tweet as QueenofGrimdark, I’m an ex-fetish model, and I have a PhD in Victorian occultism.

No, honestly.

I’m a fantasy novelist from London, UK.  I have a background in history and literature: I studied Classical History for my BA, Cultural History for my MA and English Literature for my PhD. Which really was about Victorian occultism, looking at the way it intersected with the physical sciences and with politics. My only real interests in life are history, mythology and literature. I spent several years as an obsessive D&D player, but sadly no longer play. I’m obsessed with Warhammer miniatures as well (Chaos Warriors … oh. Oh oh oh), but don’t actually play Warhammer either. Continue reading