The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Synopsis by Amazon:

Everyone has a dark side. Dr Jekyll has discovered the ultimate drug. A chemical that can turn him into something else. Suddenly, he can unleash his deepest cruelties in the guise of the sinister Hyde. Transforming himself at will, he roams the streets of fog-bound London as his monstrous alter-ego. It seems he is master of his fate. It seems he is in complete control. But soon he will discover that his double life comes at a hideous price …

Dr. Jekyll is a scientist with a dark secret – he has created a drug which transforms him into his sinister dark side. At first this is OK, but then Hyde, his alter-ego starts making trouble and goes as far as committing murder. Jekyll’s friends start to get suspicious when Mr. Hyde is seen coming and going from Jekyll’s home – and then the hideous secret is out….

I really enjoyed this book. It explores human nature and good and evil – and ultimately the choices we make. The book was exciting and gripping. It is original and well written – clearly a classic.

Stevenson’s characters were great! I liked the fact Mr. Hyde was written in such a way that I really didn’t like him – it is nice to come across a book that sparks emotion and feelings, and this book did that.

I didn’t find this book scary, just a great read.

9/10

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Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett

men at arms

Synopsis from Amazon:

Be a MAN in the City Watch! The City Watch needs MEN!

But what it’s got includes Corporal Carrot (technically a dwarf), Lance-constable Cuddy (really a dwarf), Lance-constable Detrius (a troll), Lance-constable Angua (a woman…most of the time) and Corporal Nobbs (disqualified from the human race for shoving).

And they need all the help they can get. Because they’ve only got twenty-four hours to clean up the town and this is Ankh-Morpork we’re talking about…

Ankh-Morpork is in trouble. There are a series of mysterious murders, a student who wants a king put on the throne and the “Gone”, a very dangerous weapon with a mind of its own. So who is there to solve this mystery? The Night-Watch, consisting of an adopted dwarf, a real dwarf, a werewolf and a troll. How will pan out….?

This is another Discworld classic. It is number 15 in the series. I found this book just as enjoyable as the others. Pratchett’s writing was engaging and inviting. As ever, Ankh-Morpork is described so well that you lose yourself there. The characters have been seen in other books, and were hilarious at times. My favourites were Death, who makes a  couple of appearances, with some very witty one-liners; Corporal Carrot, a very simple human who was adopted by dwarfs and Gaspode the talking dog. His manipulation of humans was classic. The conversations between Cuddy and Detrius were amusing, as trolls and dwarfs traditionally dislike each other, so they rivalry had to continue for show. Detrius learning to count and his use of numbers had me laughing too. Pratchett is very original with his ideas of a Fools Guild, an Assassin Guild and even a Dog Guild. This is a very well thought out and well written book.

I recommend this book because it is engaging, full of danger, and adventure and hilarious. This is a grea fantasy book and well worth reading.

9/10

Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris

living dead in dallas

Synopsis from Amazon:

Cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse isn’t happy. Her co-worker has been murdered and no one seems to care. If that wasn’t enough she’s got blood-poisoning and a raging fever. Luckily, some friendly vampires graciously suck the poison from her veins (like they didn’t enjoy it). But, seeing as they did save her life, when they come asking for a favour she can hardly refuse. She quickly finds herself using her telepathic skills in the search for a missing vampire, but when they break their good behaviour condition over a tasty blond, things go rapidly and horribly wrong …

This is the second book in the Sookie Stackhouse Vampire Mystery series by Charlaine Harris. In this adventure, Sookie is attacked on her way to see Eric, by a mythical creature, and after having had her poisoned blood sucked, is told she is off to Dallas to use her gift. There she meets the anti-vampire group, and has to fight for her life. While all this is going on, she is trying to find out who murdered her friend and why.

There is a lot going on in this book. It starts with a murder and ends with an orgy. In between there is a lot of fighting and maybe mythical characters. Up until the last fifty pages I really enjoyed this book. It was exciting and gripping. The last bit of the book was full of sex and that put me off.

I like how Harris is introducing more mythical beings instead of just including vampires – I think this adds a new dimension to the story. It will be interesting to see where she takes the stories with all these characters and beings.

Harris is a very distinctive writer. She has her own style, which comes through in both her Sookie Stackhouse books and her Harper Connelly books. I like how she writes, for the most part she is engaging and gripping.

Apart from all the sex, which I still think is unnecessary, I think this is a good book.

8/10

Savage Tide by Glen Chandler

savage tide

Synopsis from Amazon:

This is a Steven Madden mystery. For Steve Madden, Brighton is no longer beaches, fish and chips and amusement arcades. It’s also a place of murder. Estranged from his son and grappling with the jealousy that comes from watching your ex-wife getting closer to another man, his world is thrown into turmoil when he is called to investigate a particularly savage murder. But there is something else, something that will change his life forever. Dragged into the twilight world of nightclubs, drugs and prostitution, Steve is about to realise that being a Detective Inspector in a seaside town is far more dangerous than he could ever have imagined.

Steve Maddon is called is called to a murder scene in Kemp Town, Brighton – the place notorious for where the homosexual community live. What he finds in the flat is a shock – and will completely rock his world. The murder is sex fueled and gruesome, and personal. Maddon is taken off the investigation, but unsatisfied with the police work, investigates himself, where he makes some shocking discoveries.

This book is not for faint hearted. The description of the murder was graphic, and horrific. The is a lot of violence, drugs and sex in this book, which aren’t really my cup of tea. That said; it was a good read, with a few twists and an interesting portrayal of the seedier side of Brighton.

Chandler wrote well – it flowed easily, I was able to keep up with the story and remember who all the characters were. It didn’t take me long to read and I was quite surprised by the revealing of the murderer. If you like crime novels, or a good murder book, this is for you.

7/10

No Time for Goodbye by Linwood Barclay

no time for goodbye

Synopsis from Amazon:

On the morning she will never forget, suburban teenager Cynthia Archer awakes with a nasty hangover and a feeling she is going to have an even nastier confrontation with her mom and dad. But when she leaves her bedroom, she discovers the house is empty, with no sign of her parents or younger brother Todd. In the blink of an eye, without any explanation, her family has simply disappeared. Twenty-five years later Cynthia is still haunted by unanswered questions. Were her family murdered? If so, why was she spared? And if they’re alive, why did they abandon her in such a cruel way? Now married with a daughter of her own, Cynthia fears that her new family will be taken from her just as her first one was. And so she agrees to take part in a TV documentary revisiting the case, in the hope that somebody somewhere will remember something – or even that her father, mother or brother might finally reach out to her… Then a letter arrives which makes no sense and yet chills Cynthia to the core. And soon she begins to realise that stirring up the past could be the worst mistake she has ever made…

Meet Cynthia – she is teenager out with her older boyfriend getting drunk in his car. Her Dad finds her, pulls her out of the car and drags her home. After a row she hits the sack to sleep off the alcohol. The following morning she wakes to a silent house. At first she finds plausible reasons for everyone being out, but once at school quickly discovers they are indeed missing.

Twenty-five years later she still doesn’t know what has happened to her family. And with a family of her own, it is starting to threaten her comfortable home. Still wanting answers, she is shocked when a letter arrives. Her past and what happened on that night is about to catch up with her, and it won’t be pretty….

What an exciting book. I couldn’t put it down. There were many twists and turns, and outcomes I did not see coming. Barclay leads you down one path, and suddenly flips it over and reveals your suspicions and guesses to be wrong. I was gripped by this adventure. So much happens, a lot of which you won’t predict. Barclay manipulates what you think, then corrects your wrong views. Just excellent. His characters were great – I especially liked the thugs who grabbed Cynthia’s husband off the street and then sat listening to the Carpenters. Quite funny! This is just a really good book.

My one complaint is the swearing. There is a lot of it. I managed to ignore most of it, but there is too much, and that is what stops me giving this book the highest rating. Overall, this is a must-read thriller, and I highly recommend it.

9/10

Brighton Rock by Graham Greene

brighton rock

Synopsis from Amazon:

A gang war is raging through the dark underworld of Brighton. Seventeen-year-old Pinkie, malign and ruthless, has killed a man. Believing he can escape retribution, he is unprepared for the courageous, life-embracing Ida Arnold. Greene’s gripping thriller, exposes a world of loneliness and fear, of life lived on the ‘dangerous edge of things’.

I picked up this book for part of my dissertation reading (the portrayal of Brighton in fiction) and wow, it certainly portrays life in the town in a dark, horrific way. Brighton Rock follows Pinkie, a heartless man as he tries to become a gang leader. He kills a journalist without any remorse. Just as he thinks this is the start of big things, he starts to be hunted down by Ida Arnold, who wants justice for Hale’s death. As events unfold Pinkie takes all sorts of measures to remain safe and in control, including more death, but he may just have underestimated Ida…

I didn’t know what to expect when starting this book, especially as the opening line is:

“Hale knew, before he had been in Brighton three hours, that they meant to murder him.”

I actually enjoyed this book. It was a slow read, and sometimes I got a little bored but overall it was exciting, with murder, fear, love and suspicion. The book shows a dark side of Brighton, with gang wars and dingy hide-outs. The ending was not what I expected either – and probably not how I would have written it, but a good way to end the book.

I liked Ida best. Pinkie was too arrogant and moody for me – he had lots of mood swings, which although fitting for his character, did annoy me somewhat after a while. Ida on the other hand, she was big and brave. She was clever and determined – and not easily scared. I think she was the most courageous character in the book.

Although written in the 1930s, this is a good crime novel, and just as exciting as modern-day thrillers. If you like suspense, and adventure, this book is worth reading.

8/10

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

dead until dark

Synopsis from Amazon:

Small town Louisiana has a big problem – or rather a number of big problems. And now some of them have come knocking on Sookie’s door …Sookie is an unassuming cocktail waitress in an (outwardly) unremarkable town. She’s quiet, keeps to herself and doesn’t get out much. Attractive as she is, her hidden ‘talents’ send men running. For some reason her mindreading skills are just a bit threatening …Then the unreadable Bill appears on the scene. Tall, dark and handsome, Bill seems to be the man of her dreams. Except he’s not technically human. Bill is a vampire and a vampire who keeps seriously bad company, some suspected – unsurprisingly – of murder. Things get a bit close to home when a co-worker is murdered and Sookie starts wondering whether she will be next …

Well it is fair to say Charlaine Harris really does know how to write a good story. This is the first book in her Sookie Stackhouse series. Sookie is a waitress in a small town, where everyone knows everyone else. Yet she has a gift; she can read people’s minds, which makes her the strangest person in the community. But things are set to change in this sleepy town, as vampires are now legal beings and are trying to “go mainstream” and live in amongst humans. This is good news for Sookie – it gets her a boyfriend – a tall, dark, handsome vampire. But not everyone is happy with having vampires roaming around, and soon there are girls dying, girls who Sookie works with and who associate with vampires. With fear and death all around, Sookie fears she will be the next victim….

This book had action right from the first page to the last. Harris weaves a great web of suspense, suspicion and fear. She writes in several characters, all of whom could be committing the crimes. The deaths themselves were gruesome. She had no fear in writing a realistic murder. I liked how she wrote about vampires too. She stuck to the traditional ideas about vampires – such as them keeping out of sunlight and feeding on humans. Although I thought it was interesting that she invented “fang-bangers”: those who wanted to be bitten by vampires; I thought that was original.

I liked Sookie. She seemed strong and sensible, and fairly likable. I loved her Gran though – her interest in the vampires was fairly amusing. I couldn’t figure out her brother – his character kept changing. That makes me wonder if he will feature more further on in the series. Of course, the other key character was Bill. For a vampire, I liked him. I couldn’t work out how vampires don’t have emotions but do fall in love but I liked how he was written. He was dangerous, and he showed that, but he had affection too.

My complaint would be the amount of sex in the book. There was a lot. It did seem that when they weren’t out investigating, they were having sex. I didn’t think the book needed quite that level of intimacy – in a way it did spoil the book for me a little bit. However, I did enjoy the book for the most part and would recommend it. It didn’t take long to read; it was gripping and exciting; and Harris keeps her status as one of my favourite authors.

8/10