Category Archives: Crime

Book Review: The Walled City

The Walled City

The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

Genre: Young-Adult, Crime, Fantasy, Gangsters

The Review

“There are three rules in the Walled City: Run fast. Trust no one. Always carry your knife. Right now, my life depends completely on the first. Run, run, run.”

These are the words that drew me in from the blurb of this book. In all honesty, I was unsure about a book that talked of rape, drug culture, gangsters, crime, death and prostitution, never mind the fact that it is a young-adult book. However, that does not mean to say I feel it is wrong for such a book to be published under the young-adult genre. After all, the term includes ‘adult’, the term only refers to somebody slightly below adult years and we have to enable our youth to learn and be educated through some means, and we cannot continue to hide the world from them. So I think whilst this book is gritty, harsh and at times dark and discomforting, it is a book that holds meaning, honesty and a brutal reflection of what human nature can lead to, and I think it is a fabulous addition to the young-adult genre as not the typical read.

The Walled City was unexpected in so many ways. It focused on three youths, Jin, Mei Yee and Dai. They all had secrets, all had a past and the alternate POVS throughout the novel slowly began to unravel their lives, their pasts, their hopes, dreams and needs and I really connected with all three of them. Personally I felt the strongest connection with Jin who is out in the Walled City to find her sister. She is young, but she is determined, feisty and frankly I would not want to mess with this young fireball. She is an absolutely brilliant character and my heart throughout the novel was firmly rooting for her. That is exactly what I want books I read to do too, have me rooting for the main character and living the story with them.

Dai is a mystery, and not exactly the one I expected. He is a likeable, rather tortured character, but underneath the first impression of a prickly, mysterious and rather untrustworthy exterior, he also found a place in my heart.

Mei Yee is the character I connected least with, however I feel that is because we got to know her least. By the end I could see her as an equally strong individual as Jin and Dai, but she faced her own struggles, being sold into prostitution at an early age by her father and being locked in one building for her future, it does appear that she lives a dismal life. There are no real explicit descriptions of the prostitution or lewd events in the brothel, however there are a couple of rather sadistic moments of brutality from a customer and the master to be aware of.

Throughout the novel Graudin is challenging how human nature has allowed this ‘Walled City’ to be created which is a place untouched by the laws of society and police force so that drugs, crime and death can continue. It challenges how human nature can become so depraved. Despite all of this, underneath it are shining moments of friendship, determination, a genuine care for others, doing the right thing and family.

There is a small amount of romance in the novel, but honestly it is not the dominant aspect, in fact it is entirely limited in terms of the plot. This is one of the other reasons why I really enjoyed this novel, because it was a somewhat refreshing look at the young-adult genre without the dominant aspect being romance. It was about friendship, family and trusting others with not just emotions, but your life. Having said that, the romance was entrancing, well-written and it was genuinely built up to. I thought it fit into the narrative with a fluid ease and was not forced in the slightest.

When I finished this novel and found out Graudin had based her novel in part upon a place called Kowloon’s Walled City in Hong Kong which in some ways made her question the type of people that would be there and the happenings, it made it all seem more realistic and heart-wrenching. Obviously the novel is fictitious which leads to the kind of fantasy element, because I would struggle to label this city as ‘contemporary’. Although the genre labelling is one topic that I struggled with when it came to this novel. Despite all this, Graudin is making a clear statement against human trafficking and I appreciated the message of the novel.

Overall, The Walled City was a novel that sent my emotions into turmoil, tugged on my heartstrings and had me racing through the last part of the novel. I almost certainly applaud Graudin on tackling such a sensitive topic, not being afraid to delve into the grit and darkness of humanity and coming out the other side successfully with 5 shining stars that shows human nature is not all bad. An absolutely phenomenal addition to the young-adult genre, and so splendidly written that every word despite being full of grit and tension, was quite beautiful to read; I recommend it to you all!

Survival Chances: 87%

Expiration Date: 2095

Favourite Quotes *quotes taken from an earc subject to change on publication

But there are still more wishes in my soul than there are stars. I wish I could hold Jin Ling’s hand in mine, I wish Sing never tried to run. I wish the boy didn’t make my chest burn, make my thoughts soar like a phoenix. I wish every girl in this brothel could be one of the lucky ones. I wish, like the boy, I was somewhere else. Someone else. And on and on and on.

“I work alone,” I say quickly. I do everything alone: eat, sleep, run, steal, talk, cry. It’s the curse of the second rule: Trust no one. The cost of staying alive.”

We stay like this for a long time. Skin to skin under false stars. The ones that never fall.

Rating: 5 / 5 stars

Goodreads ~ Amazon UK / US ~ Author’s Website

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Filed under 2014 Publication, 5 Books, Crime, E-book, Fantasy, Little, Brown and Company, Ryan Graudin, Young Adult

Divided in Death

Divided in Death

Divided in Death by J.D. Robb

Genre: Crime, Romance, Futuristic, Adult

Series: In Death #18

Published: August 31st 2004 by Berkley

Reva Ewing was a former member of the Secret Service, and then a security specialist for Roarke Enterprises—until she was found standing over the dead bodies of her husband, renowned artist Blair Bissel, and her best friend. But Lieutenant Eve Dallas believes there was more to the killings than jealous rage—all of Bissel’s computer files were deliberately corrupted.
To Roarke, it’s the computer attack that poses the real threat. He and Reva have been under a Code Red government contract to develop a program that would shield against techno-terrorists.
But this deadly new breed of hackers isn’t afraid to kill to protect their secret—and it’s up to Lieutenant Eve Dallas to shut them down before the nightmare can spread to the whole country.

My Review:

Thrilling, emotional and just all around brilliant. Robb ticked every box for me this time and continues to astound me. With her In Death series currently topping a phenomenal 30+ books I’ve been rather left wondering if there are any more directions this woman can take her books at 18. I thought surely at some point she’s going to have to drop and whilst I’ve preferred some books in the series more than others they continue to be of a top-class quality that always keep me excited, engaged and hanging on until the very last moment.

“There’s an oatmeal cookie in there. I see no reason for the existence of oatmeal, particularly in cookies.”

This novel was no different. Not only does Roarke’s top secret work for the government get challenged, but Eve’s very childhood begins to unravel even further, dragging in sordid secrets, Roarke’s past and the government. It really entangles her very role as a Lieutenant and her case with her personal life and it makes for precarious balancing. Roarke also hits a rocky road and this causes turbulence between Eve and him. Admittedly I wanted more and more of the trouble in their relationship, particularly when they pushed each other away because it made for a really tetchy, nail-biting story line that had my stomach churning.

“If you ended up naked and dead with another woman, I’d do the Rumba on your corpse.”
“You can’t do the Rumba.”
“I’d take lessons first.”

Robb for me really outdid herself with the intricateness of this novel and I felt like we interwove lots of different elements that she’d been foreshadowing for a while. However, she really has left me wondering where she can take the series from here because whilst it’s clearly not over there seems to be an awful lot of subjects and territory covered on both a criminal and personal level so far across the In Death series.

Eve is an incredibly relatable character and she’s focused, driven but at the same time she’s not perfect and you recognise the humanness of her character that really helps to make her relatable. She’s feisty and that cannot be doubted, but at the same time she’s vulnerable beneath that surface and when she gets thrown off her track she’ll get back on, but without a falter that you see as the reader. It’s rather brilliant.

“She was halfway through with the oversized mug when she realized she was still wearing her underwear. Now she did curse. After downing the rest of the coffee, she peeled off her tank and panties and tossed them into a sopping heap in the corner of the shower.”

The secondary characters continued to develop and take on a storyline of their own. Peabody seemed to become a living, breathing Eve when she went off on her own mission, whilst we uncovered a very different side of Dr. Mira that was surprising, but tackled some very serious issues at the same time. I always have to say, Robb tackles controversial issues in a sensitive manner that really delves to the bottom of an issue and doesn’t allow people to shy away from the problem and I like the message she sends with her novel.

If I haven’t said this a thousand times already, you need to go pick up the first novel in the series because I promise you it won’t disappoint.

  • Kick ass heroine = Double tick. 
  • Mystery = check.
  • Swoony male = Double tick.
  • Romance = check.
  • Well written = check.
  • Good secondary characters = check.
  • Futuristic setting with good backstory = check.

What more do you need? I urge you to give this series a try, I really do because it has to be one of, if not my favourite series out there.

 

5 books

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Filed under 2004 Publication, 5 Books, Adult, Berkley, Crime, Futuristic, Hardback, J.D. Robb, Romance

Imitation in Death

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Imitation in Death by J.D. Robb

Series: In Death #17

Genre: Crime, Romance, Futuristic, Adult

Published: 2008 by Piatkus

Police Lieutenant Eve Dallas encounters one of her most difficult cases in this latest offering from J. D. Robb, alter ego of bestselling author Nora Roberts. With the very first victim, Eve realizes that the killer stalking the streets of New York City isn’t a run-of-the-mill serial murderer. The copycat executions are imitating the methods and victim choices of an ominous list of notorious serial killers, beginning with Jack the Ripper. And when the killer leaves a distinctive note at the crime scene, it’s clear that he’s targeting Eve personally–a fact that worries Roarke, Eve’s shrewd husband.

Assisted by her aide, Peabody, Eve compiles a list of suspects that includes several high-profile possibilities. Their very prominence, however, complicates the investigation, for they have the power and influence to make the search difficult. All of the suspects are reluctant to cooperate but one of them is playing with Eve like a cat with a mouse by tempting her with crime scene notes and challenging her to find him. Can Eve stop him before he slaughters again? Or will his next victim be Eve herself?

My Review:

Imitation in Death starts out with a death as per usual for J.D. Robb’s books, but I found this one to be much more disturbing than usual. It reminds me that Robb’s books are definitely not for the faint hearted and the heat certainly kept rising in this book and we had lots of strands from previous books being drawn in to add to the plot complexity and I really enjoyed that aspect of the novel. Robb over the past two years has become one of my favourite authors and the In Death series really has a special place in my heart, so I advise you all to read it.

Robb definitely takes a new tone in this novel with a killer who imitates serial killers with the likes of Jack the Ripper and Albert DeSalvo. This brings a much dark and sinister feel to the novel especially when Jack the Ripper is a killer from my own country and somebody that still haunts England. The killer has a hatred for women and this is really brought across with the brutality of his murders and the practice and time he takes. Luckily Robb doesn’t bring out too much gore, but you definitely get the vivid descriptions. These are especially brought to the forefront when Eve walks her way through the crime scenes and mentally visualises the killings. It makes quite the impact upon the reader.

“Or maybe a—what did you call it—an Anglophile? Somebody who admired things British. Had he travelled there, walked the streets of Whitechapel? Relived it? Imagined himself as the Ripper?”

Robb has many different strands from previous novels that she draws together to create a complex and diverse plot in addition to the mystery of the murder that unravels in many directions and brings around numerous suspects for one to guess at the killer. The mystery keeps you on the edge of your seat and really serves to entertain and engage you as a reader. It’s safe to say, predictability is not Robb’s style.

However, something I have noticed is the stereotype role of a woman hating man that is becoming a little repetitive. So I’m hoping Robb will try to induce some new and invigorating killers to future novels.

Eve blossoms more as a character every book and this time, the storyline is very fitting with the focus of the plot line. She focuses more on her mother and her perspective is very much altered. When you include her time spent with Mira and her family it really adds to Eve’s growth and shows the relationship and interaction with Mira to be really sweet! Mira really represents a mother figure for Eve and it’s great. Alongside this all, we get some humour with Roarke’s attempt to use a grill—the perfect man, not so perfect—when he can’t cook the food.

Along with the focus on the central character and the chase for the killer, Peabody becomes more prominent as she trains to take her Detective test. The friendship she’s developed with Eve is profound to witness and how easily she has learned to understand Eve is a really great. As always Robb’s secondary characters are just as well developed as the main character and really boost this series up.

Robb is continuing to build on a world so thoroughly developed and employ new ideas and surprises at every corner. Whilst the set-up of Robb’s novels may be very similar, I feel like each new addition to this series brings something new.

Robb’s books are engaging, exciting and involve a brilliant plot, outstanding secondary characters and overall a great satisfaction in reading. imitation in Death is not to be missed out as another good addition to the ever growing series.

 

4 books

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Portrait in Death

Portrait in Death

Title: Portrait in Death

Author: J.D. Robb

Series: In Death #16

Genre: Crime, Romance, Futuristic

Publication: February 25th 2003 by Berkley

Plot:

After a tip from a reporter, Eve Dallas finds the body of a young woman in a Delancey street dumpster. Just hours before, the news station had mysteriously received a portfolio of professional portraits of the woman. The photos seemed to be nothing out of the ordinary for any pretty young woman starting a modeling career. Except that she wasn’t a model. And that these photos were taken after she had been murdered. Now Dallas is on the trail of a killer who’s a perfectionist and an artist. He carefully observes and records his victim’s every move. And he has a mission: to own every beautiful young woman’s innocence, to capture her youth and vitality—in one fateful shot…

Review:

This is one of my Library Loot books for the week and despite having a few other library books that you might have seen on my Stacking the Shelves for the week, I couldn’t wait to get around to this one. So having said that, I just had to pick it up because the In Death series by J.D. Robb is certainly one of my all-time favourites when she has a little bit of everything.

I feel like in every book we get a progression from the previous in the characters and particular Eve and Roarke’s relationship, This instalment was no different and I certainly think it makes up for my disappointment with the last one. Due to my previous disappointment, I had put off reading another of Robb’s In Death series for a few weeks, but I’m happy to have picked this one up from my library because it has to be one of my favourites of the series.

For those of you that are a little adverse to all the brutality and evil that sometimes festers in Robb’s In Death series with the following of a homicide cop, I felt we took a step back from the horrific scenes we sometimes see with rape and brutality and this one took a more spiritual and emotional lead with the murders. Still we did witness death, I felt it was less brutal and I liked the step back from that because I felt Robb had been getting more and more gory and only following a theme of rape in the past few additions and this one refreshed the series in my opinion.

We delved deep into Roarke’s history in this one and for once we saw him thrown off balance from his ‘perfect’ life that even when Eve is in trouble still sees him being ‘perfect’ and at times despite him being a fabulous swoon-worthy character, it can be annoying. We certainly witnesses a different, vulnerable Roarke and an Eve who was forced to take control of her relationship and pry the details from Roarke. I was eagerly flipping through the pages to find more of their relationship status and how they would solve the problems. It added another touch of emotionality to the story and I really enjoyed it.

The secondary characters were starting to further their own storylines in this addition and I felt with the introduction of Troy Trueheart again that he actually got a convincing amount of attention and not neglected like I felt he had previously.

If you’ve never picked up the In Death series before, I’d tell you that you’re certainly missing out! There is a little bit of everything: romance, crime, sex, emotional connections, great characters, suspense, murder. We have the grit, the secondary characters and amazing protagonists with Eve and Roarke. I really advise you all go out and pick up a copy of Naked in Death because it really changed my mind on Nora Roberts as a writer. Don’t be afraid to pick up Naked in Death if you’re like me and not a fan of Roberts (sounds strange) because J.D. Robb is like a totally different person!

For those of you that read the In Death series, this one certainly focuses more on Roarke and Eve kind of finds to the background, but after much trouble from her past and personality, I think it’s a welcomed addition. Some may say Robb’s books follow a set scheme of events, but this certainly didn’t that for me, and I think it’s hard to apply that when the situation is always changing across the series. For me, each book Robb adds to the In Death series brings a new refreshing change.

The next book in the series is already on order from the library for me, so don’t sit about and go pick up the In Death books now because I’m positive you won’t regret it!

My Rating:

4 books

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Purity in Death

purity-in-death

Title: Purity in Death

Author: J.D. Robb

Series: In Death#15

Genre: Crime, Romance, Adult

Publication: January 6th 2005 by Piatkus Books

Plot: Louie Cogburn has spent three days holed up in his apartment, staring at his computer screen. Finally, when someone knocks on his door, Louie picks up a baseball bat and starts swinging … The first cop on the scene fires twice and Louie dies instantly. Detective Eve Dallas over the investigation, but there’s nothing to explain the man’s sudden rage or death. The only clue is a bizarre message left on his computer screen: Absolute Purity Achieved. And when a second man dies under nearly identical circumstances, Dallas starts to think the impossible—that this might be a computer virus able to spread from machine to man …

Review: I enjoyed this book immensely, but that is in large due to my general love of the series, which is an extremely unique one.

We see Eve grow as a person when she has to deal with her personal relationships more than ever.  Those relationship dynamics were by far the most we’ve seen Eve express herself emotionally towards friends, when Peabody, Mavis and McNab all become central focus. The strength of their relationships are all tested. With Mavis we find a certain humour that lightens the book, whilst McNab and Peabody remind us of the dangers of the job and make our heart beat a little faster.

However, on the downside to this, I felt like Robb tried to put too much emotional stress on Eve all at once, when the incidents were minor details in certain instances and then major problems in another. I felt that testing both her friendship with Peabody and McNab was overdone, and rather it should have just been one or the other that Eve had the emotional trauma over. Using both lessened the impact of the event and reduced the emotional attachment for me.

Trueheart reappears in this novel again, and I adore his character. Unfortunately, we hardly see the poor guy, despite him taking a major role in the case at the start of the story, he then vanishes for at least the central part before reappearing right at the end. When Eve is meant to be concerned for him and his trauma, there is no incident where she speaks to him or even checks on him. I found this to be the only real ‘plot hole’ when he vanishes for most of the book. It seemed to me that he was meant to have a story within this novel, and then Robb forgot about him for the central part and stashed him into the end to sort things out. His character witness a real emotional trauma and although he isn’t a main secondary character, he was important in this particular novel, and that frustrated me greatly when he disappeared.

Despite all of this, there were many good points about the book. We saw the development of Eve’s position in the police force and the discussion of her gaining bars once again. This leaves us ever excited to see when she’ll finally be awarded the certainly deserved bars. The relationship with Roarke manages to develop into a more solid relationship after the confrontation of morals and right and wrong.

Finally this instalment draws in many of the much loved characters from the past that have had little action until now. We see Baxter, Jamie, Trueheart and Tibble all playing much larger roles along with McNab and Peabody having a central stage for development in their relationship. This made it rather cute and fluffy for a crime novel, but the brutality and terror still remained to remind us of Robb’s uncanny ability in portraying the true horrors of murder.

Overall an enjoyable read, with only a few minor discrepancies.

Rating:

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Naked in Death

Naked in DeathTitle: Naked in Death

Author: J.D Robb

Series: In Death #1

Genre: Crime, Romance, Adult, Futuristic

Published: Piatkus Books 2007 (1st Published July 1995)

Plot: The first book of the In Death series, featuring New York City homicide detective Lieutenant Eve Dallas and Roarke.
It is the year 2058, and technology now completely rules the world. But New York City Detective Eve Dallas knows that the irresistible impulses of the human heart are still ruled by just one thing-passion. When a senator’s daughter is killed, the secret life of prostitution she’d been leading is revealed. The high-profile case takes Lieutenant Eve Dallas into the rarefied circles of Washing-ton politics and society.
Further complicating matters is Eve’s growing attraction to Roarke, who is one of the wealthiest and most influential men on the planet, devilishly handsome . . . and the leading suspect in the investigation.

Review: This book has an interesting mixture of crime, romance and passion to make it an all around fantastic read. The main feature is the crime and the mystery behind the ‘whodunit’ scenario. It leaves one guessing all the way until the end who might have been the murderer and then flings out a totally unexpected criminal.

The romance for myself only adds to the experience of the read because it’s the background story to building the character profile. It allows the connection between reader and character to be made and increases the excitement. Not only does the main character have to tackle the problem of murder and deal with the fallout from the crime, but she has to balance it with a man who’s a suspect and coming after her for more than just a chat.

The idea of Roarke being a suspect only further entangles the precarious emotions of Eve who is an incredibly likeable, strong heroine. She’s confused and distraught over potentially falling for her leading suspect, but then the problem appears when she’s faced with the facts and her gut instinct. Roarke is definitely the suave, man-of-your-dreams with the money, power and looks, you want him chasing you instead of Eve and it certainly becomes a page turner to find the murderer and the resulting implications for the romance. Roarke may be arrogant and over-bearing at times, but this only makes for an interesting mix with the strong-willed Eve.

Robb certainly doesn’t surpass the gore and violence of a real crime thriller, despite having the romance, this book pertains all the grit of a really exciting crime book and loses nothing for gaining a love plot.

The introduction to the series starts with a real adrenaline rush and without a doubt, leaves you desperate for more of Eve’s action, her romance and more murder!

However if you’re looking for a straight crime without interference of romance, this book would not be one I’d recommend. Only if you like to mix the genres and enjoy some nice romance, with a suave, confident man then this book is for you.

This book tops an all time favourite for me and I could read it over and over again!

Rating:

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Filed under 1995 Publication, 5 Books, Adult, Crime, Futuristic, J.D. Robb, Paperback, Piatkus Books, Romance