Tuesday, January 20, 2015

My take on: Want You Dead

A single gal meets a single man. Instant attraction. Declarations of love. Both start having dreams of the future. Everything should be great .... but not for Red. Her dream man, Bryce, turned into a nightmare. Now, long after they've broken up Red begins to wonder if he will ever let her go. It seems highly unlikely in Peter James' latest thriller Want You Dead.

The action starts right away. Dr. Karl Murphy, a widower with two children, is finally getting back into the dating scene. He is finally starting to love and trust again. So is his girlfriend, Red. After enduring a verbally, emotionally, and physically abusive relationship with Bryce, Red wants to open her heart again. But her fear of Bryce has never gone away. From a distance, Bryce has managed to maintain a close watch over Red. He has taken stalking to a new level. Listening devices and cameras are just a small part of his arsenal. As a former magician, Bryce has become a master at showing up and disappearing from the least likely spots, including Red's "secure" apartment.

Bryce has no intention of letting Red and Karl live happily ever after. In his mind, Red belongs to him and no one else. He is obsessed with Red. Everything would have been just fine if she didn't listen to her awful parents. Her meddling mother had a private detective investigate Bryce. Her meddling mother found out that Bryce lied about his squeaky clean past. Red didn't really need her mother's help, the signs had been there all along. There was always something not quite right about Bryce. But now, he will make everyone pay for ruining their relationship, including Karl, Red's family, and Red herself! I don't think I'm spoiling anything by saying that Karl is murdered by Bryce. It happens very early in the book. The rest of the book is devoted to Bryce's evil deeds and the efforts of Detective Superintendent Roy Grace and his staff's attempts to stop him.

This is the 10th book in the Roy Grace series, but I don't think that matters. It can be read as a standalone. Detective Grace has his own storyline, but it didn't hold as much interest for me. He's about to get married again, several years after his first wife has been declared dead. Is she alive or isn't she? That could have been intriguing, but I have a feeling that's a storyline that was started in earlier books and won't be resolved for a while. As a character, Grace is definitively intuitive and caring. He was the first to suspect that there was more to Karl's death than meets the eye. He knows there is a larger story. He is willing to disrupt his own life to catch a killer.

The chapters are very short, which I like. As a plot device, there is less anticipation with short chapters. You know the payoff is coming soon. Although my Goodreads account might say otherwise, when I was actively reading I was speed-reading. Bryce is an extremely arrogant, annoying, creepy, disgusting, and all the other bad words one can think of. He's clearly a bad guy, and readers are supposed to have no sympathy for him. You just want the police to wise up and catch him. I was torn between liking and hating Red. Her sense of powerlessness comes through. Life might never be normal if the police don't catch Bryce. Who couldn't sympathize with that? I could, but in the last few chapters Red started to lose me. I don't want to give too much away but.... She had the opportunity to make a very smart decision but instead she makes a very dumb one. She has the opportunity to be fully protected by the police. Instead she opts for the "safety" of her apartment. She doesn't know it's not safe, but Red's actions go against what the average person would do. If you want to know what I'm talking about, read the book!

Rating: Give it a try

Note: I received a copy of the book from Wunderkind PR in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, January 16, 2015

My take on: A Sister to Honor

The definition of honor as defined by Merriam Webster:

--respect that is given to someone who is admired
--good reputation; good quality or character as judged by other people
--high moral standards of behavior

I had to look up that word after reading A Sister to Honor by Lucy Ferriss. The word honor means a lot of things to a lot of people. In this book, the word honor is deeply rooted in family and culture. Brother and sister, Shahid and Afia Satar are natives of Pakistan living in New England. Both are working their way toward college degrees at neighboring colleges, and with them they are both carrying a heavy burden. The burden of honoring the family name. The burden of honoring the family's status in Pakistan. The burden of living by the standards of their culture while in America. They are living in America but are not supposed to live like Americans.

Shahid is a star athlete on the Enright University college team. He has to have razor-sharp focus. He is the leader of the team. It is also his responsibility to watch after Afia. Sounds normal. But their relationship goes beyond what most people would consider normal. Afia has dreams of becoming a doctor, but she does something that women in her family are not supposed to do. She has fallen in love. She has fallen in love with Gus, a teammate of Shahid's. Afia has worked very hard to keep this relationship from everyone, including her roommates and friends. But a "scandalous" photo of Afia has surfaced on the internet.

What's so "scandalous" about the photo? She's holding Gus' hand in the photo. She's holding the hand of a man she is not married to. It looks innocent and harmless to Shahid's coach Lissy. But to Shahid that photo is anything but harmless. Afia has brought shame to the family name. Where they come from, girls are severely punished and sometimes even killed for this kind of behavior. Shahid fears he will be forced to punish Afia. But how can he do this? He loves his father. He loves his mother. He loves his other sisters, too. He also loves his culture and way of life. But how is punishing Afia the honorable thing? His step-brother, Khalid, is convinced that Afia deserves to be punished.

Shahid has the weight of the world on his shoulders. What about Afia? I was just astounded that Afia seemed to accept her fate. She's supposed to have opinions or dreams that could jeopardize her family's honor. When Gus is mysteriously injured, Afia quickly suspects Shahid. An attempt on her life only increases Afia's fears. Lissy doesn't fully understand the dynamic between Afia and Shahid. She doesn't understand what "honor" means to them. She wants to understand. But trying to get at the root of the problem could prove to be dangerous for Lissy.

This one started out a little slow for me, but after 100 pages I was hooked. I could really feel the emotional struggles of Shahid, Afia, and Lissy. Reading about a way of life that is so different from my own was disturbing. The author's writing truly makes you question how some people can have such extreme beliefs. What would you do for your family's honor? Would you let a sense of duty blind your judgment? It's one of those books that stays with you longer after you've finished. I would definitely read another book by Lucy Ferriss.

Rating: Superb

Note: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (Penguin) as part of a blog tour.