Shemlan A Deadly Tragedy by Alexander McNabb

Jason Hartmoor, the main character is clearly defined from the start; I immediately got a good sense of him. An incident in his past had caused his past employer to look back into his life. Depicting a respectable man, this taint in his past continues to haunt him.
The multi-dimensional characters display different sides and interesting pasts. Because of the age of the characters their exploits go back to the seventies.
Beirut, the country to which Hartmoor travels to is described with good detail, without too much blogging down the plot. I easily stayed with the pace of the novel, interested to see where this would lead.
The more I read the more interested I became. It wasn’t full of violence, but yet certain events displayed the brutality of how far some would go. The characters were enjoyable to read about, and this event and government operation that the Americans want to keep secret all added to the mystery of the novel.
The detailed descriptions of war-torn Beirut years past gave me a clear idea of what it would have been life, helping me to connect with the events. The author creates a fluent stream of imagery, easily pictured. As the plot progresses, so to more things are revealed, hard to know friend from foe.
Jason Hartmoor caught up in this violent world all over again, comrades brutally tortured and murdered, him followed by various parties, and Estonian assassins ready to hurt people to prevent the truth from getting out.
This intriguing novel keeps getting better and better as more layers are unveiled. The author does an excellent job with pacing the novel. For a little while one may be lulled into a false sense that it is nearly all over, when suddenly something else smashes into the plot and the excitement and speed take hold. Jostling the reader up and down.
The sad enormity of what Jason had done, consequences from the past leave behind a large trail of death. Criminals from the past still are present, utilising their resources, but Jason continually stands in their way, and they desperately want to bring him down.
At times towards the end there are some tedious points discussed that slow down the novel, debatable whether the novel would have benefited without it, but then again some details may have been necessary.
It was indeed a tragedy, mistakes unwittingly made, many bodies left behind. The ending belying those sad realities of war. How easy to get caught up in the mayhem without realising it.
4 out of 5 stars


Waking up Dead by Margo Bond Collins review

The start was slightly strange but amusing start of the main character winding up someplace she didn’t expect after her death.
I wasn’t sure where this was heading. It seemed to just tell a story about a woman that died and now is spending her time as a ghost, telling of the tedious events in her life. It was difficult to connect to start with, although amusing anecdotes, the story felt distant.
But suddenly it all turned quite real and intriguing. An event that occurred that she could not control, happening right in front of her but she couldn’t do anything.
I have to admit from the start I didn’t expect much from this novel, but I was pleasantly surprised. The unique perspective of the main character as a ghost trying to help the police catch a vicious murderer. Almost humorous are her antics, but the plot had pulled me in.
As Callie tries to uncover who committed the murder she comes across a young woman Ashara and her grandmother Maw-Maw, who assists her in trying to find the person responsible. The characters are humorous and tend to be quite relatable.
Although some more editing could have been done to improve things, the plot did have some pull, but because the main event happened at the start, it only slowly progressed. Hard at times to keep focused as the characters, in addition with Steven, went about trying to solve the murder of Molly and clear her husband’s name.
The characters did have good rapport and developed as the story went along. I got a good sense of the characters and their personalities. I did wonder if I was going to be at all surprised by how it would end. But then again this isn’t really a who-done-it kind of novel.
Some humorous notes in the story, but there is still a very serious aspect to it as well. Callie finds out the man that had attacked her and murdered her is still out there doing it. So both murder investigations are combined to find and bring those to justice.
Unlike other novels, the unique perspective coming from the main character in the fact that she is dead makes it far more interesting and sets it apart.
Perhaps slow at times, I wasn’t disappointed or surprised at the ending, but still an easy read.
3/5 stars


Making Sense by Jim Murdoch review

Oh the irony. It would at first appear that the main character as had a nervous breakdown, some ramblings in the beginning are hard to ‘make sense’ of.
The start is a bit tedious talking about numbers, but I suppose it cements the perception of the person being slightly mentally unstable.
I got a real sense of the main character quickly, but a little too much information weighed it down. Maths has never been my strong suit, so when repetitive references to numbers kept cropping up it was hard to actually figure out if this novel was actually going to get anywhere.
One thing I believe all novels should have, and that is a start that gives a small inkling to where the story was going to take the reader. This start gave nothing away. I had no clue what the point of it was.
The dialogue in the novel really is only the main character directly addressing the reader, creating a sense that I was sitting on listening to an old man’s tale.
The next section made even less sense, the man speaking to a cherub. I was beginning to think the title was supposed to be ironic. I couldn’t ‘make sense’ of the novel.
Cliché wording and editing really needed to be looked at. It would appear that it jumps to other characters along the way, and other ways of presenting dialogue.
Quite a bizarre read as I got to the second character, her interest in another woman, but yet there is something about the way the author writes that made it a bit more interesting; unveiling the complexities of a person’s mind.
The ever-changing characters prevent the novel from being boring. The array of characters makes the novel unique. Some chapters are difficult to read because of how some of the characters speak in slang.
The ending certainly summed up the unusual novel, some elements good… some just didn’t Make Sense.

2 ½ /5 stars


Hacktivist by R J Webster review

The novel chucks you instantly into the world of a hacker as Jim’s business files are hacked, and the only way to restore anything is to pay the ransom; giving a glimpse to where this novel would take the reader.
While Jack, the main character is dealing with the love of his life going to Haiti, worrying about her and where his life is taking him. The novel allows small glimpses into the world of Haiti after the terrible disaster that hit them.
It’s a little bit slow to start, just talking about this woman Catherine that he is in love with, her driven need to do charity work and his lack of direction.
I kind of wondered where this was heading. The first couple of chapters went off course and seemed to have no relevance.
This book may be interesting to a computer geek, but quite a bit of it felt like I was reading a text book. I kept on fading in and out hoping to get somewhere that showed a glimmer of excitement.
Everything I wanted to know (or didn’t want to know) filled the pages. I had an inkling where this was going, but wished it would get there much faster. Because it was very technical it was hard to connect to Jack. It felt the characters were secondary to the plot.
Thirty-four pages in and I was still reading about computer viruses, only short breaks filled in by Jack’s mundane life.
There’s not much dialogue that occurs. The fine line begins to be drawn in which Jack has to decide how far he will go. Meanwhile, John an FBI agent begins to learn more about the virus underworld.
The story took me on the journey of the FBI agent, but again instead of actual events happening, there is more info about the hacking scandal. On page 53 and I did expect something to have taken place. Although very informative and somewhat frightening in terms of how hackers can get information, I wanted some connection to what was happening.
I felt the story needed more. I tried to get involved, and maybe for those that are interested in all this technical stuff might find this intriguing, but I felt the author should have done more with this plot. It does have the backbone of a good thriller, but needs work to make it exciting. Without this connection the novel doesn’t really give me anything.
The wording is quite repetitive and a bit cliché. Certain elements really worked, while others didn’t, so I felt it wasn’t complete.
The ending didn’t really help with the overall conclusion, just showed how easy it can be to do this hacking, and how it affects others.

2/5 stars