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Review: Jeremy Logan series

Author: Lincoln Child

Books in series:
1. Deep Storm (2007)
2. Terminal Freeze (2008)
3. The Third Gate (2012)
4. The Forgotten Room (2015)
5. Full Wolf Moon (2017)

Lincoln Child is probably best know for his collaborations with Douglas Preston on both the Agent Pendergast series and the Gideon Crew series. The Jeremy Logan series is in the same vein as the other two series, though a little bit different. The Agent Pendergast series is a crime thriller with paranormal/supernatural elements. The Gideon Crew series is an action adventure thriller series with, again, paranormal and supernatural elements. The Jeremy Logan series is a mystery thriller with more paranormal and supernatural elements than the other two series. Although the story concludes with a race to solve the mystery and/or capture the bad guy is doesn’t feature as much action as the other two series.

Dr. Jeremy Logan is a history professor, but he is better known as an “enigmalogist”. He looks into cases that seemingly don’t have a normal solution but a paranormal or supernatural one. It is his job to prove or disprove the truth of these phenomena. He has gained some notoriety by working on some sensational cases such as proving, or disproving, the existence of the Loch Ness monster. He often signs a confidentiality agreement, so there are cases he can’t talk about. New clients are often hesitant to hire Logan because of those sensational cases.

Logan is a widower, his wife Karen died of cancer several years before the start of the series. Although he shows an interest in some of the female characters he meets during his adventures, nothing comes of it. Logan has some powers himself. He is an empath and a “sensitive”, which means that by touching people he can “read” them, not their thoughts but their feelings. He can get a sense of who a person is and often how he or she became that way. In rare cases he can read a location, especially if something bad has happened there.

I first came upon this series by reading the third book, The Third Gate, not knowing it was part of a series. When I found out is was part of a series I went back to the first book and started reading the series in order.

In the first book, Deep Storm, Logan only has a very minor part to play. Just like with the Pendergast series. The stories are set around the world in locations varying from Egyptian swamps to deep below the sea, but also more mundane settings as a research facility or a artist’s retreat in the Adirondacks.

Each story starts with Logan being asked to look into a strange happenings, often happening during a project, there is seemingly no normal explanation for these things to happen. Logan approaches the mystery with a open mind, but he will always try to go the scientific route first. Usually there is an explanation for the things going on that although they are not normal they are natural. Some mysteries have a more unusual explanation or are purely supernatural. Logan regularly reminds himself to keep an open mind or suspend his disbelieve. And by doing so he forces the reader to do the same.

The books are, for me, quick and easy reads and very entertaining. Although I like both the Agent Pendergast and Gideon Crew series I think I like this series better. Because it doesn’t depend on action and adventure to drive the story but it depend of the characters and their actions. Dr. Jeremy Logan is mild mannered and easy going and is a very likeable character.

The Fabric of Sin by Phil Rickman (review)

I started reading the Merrily Watkins series on the 8th of May of this year. The Fabric of Sin is the ninth book in the series. For me having read nine book in a series in five months is quick reading for me. I usually grow tired of a series, stopping half way through the series after reading those first book within a couple of month, then I read a book every couple of months.

What I like about this series is that the characters feel real. Merrily the exorcist vicar who struggles with her faith on regular basis but also with combining her job with her home life. Her relationship with her boyfriend, which isn’t secret anymore but they still try to hide their relationship for the village. And her teenage daughter, Jane. Jane is struggling with the decision what she wants to do when she leaves secondary school, her boyfriend (is he still her boyfriend?), her mother’s religion and her own beliefs. Lol, Merrily’s musician boyfriend, who is having a comeback. Then there are the other regular characters that make an appearance and we are introduced to new characters.

In The Fabric of Sin Merrily is asked to quickly and discreetly take care of a possible haunting in a farmhouse acquired by the Prince of Wales. During restorations the builder and his girlfriend walk out of the job claiming the place is haunted. Although Merrily can do discreetly, being quick isn’t her thing, especially when she pressured by various people to either leave is alone or get on with the job. In her researching she discovers that in the past various things have happened in the house, Master House, which can be the cause to the troubles; a link to the Knight’s Templar and author M. R. James, a feud between two local families, a commune which performed rituals in the house and a disappearance of girl. Jane does research for Merrily meanwhile she’s have problems with her boyfriend and it’s also time for her to decide what she wants to do after graduating from secondary school.

Lol also helps out, resulting in something he wouldn’t be able to have dealt with several books ago. Although all characters develop throughout the series in this book the changes in Lol are made especially clear. When we first met him in The Wine of Angels he was trying to commit suicide, now when he’s threatened he confronts the persons responsible in a way that surprised me (but I loved it!).

The Fabric of Sin is my one of my favourites and I liked it better than the previous couple of books (that isn’t to say they weren’t good, I loved those too). This is because there is a great balance of the story of this individual book and the overarching storyline of the series. Important decisions are taken by various characters and a hint of what the future might bring.

I’m planning on finishing tenth and eleventh book before the release of The Magus of Hay on 7 November (which I’ll try to save for my holiday the week after its release). I can’t believe this isn’t a very popular series, I guess it’s the lack of action and it’s slower pace, because this series has risen to the top of my favourite series list.

The Curse of Malenfer Manor – Iain McChesney (review)

I got this book for free through the LibraryThing Member Giveaways in exchange for a review.

The Curse of Malenfer Manor is set in France during (in flash-backs) and just after the First World War. During the war an Irishman, Dermot Ward, and a French nobleman, Arthur Malenfer, get stuck together in a tunnel which has partially collapsed after being bombed. Dermot is rescued in time but Arthur isn’t as lucky and dies soon after Dermot has pulled him out of the tunnel. Flash forward several years and Arthur’s ghost finds Dermot in Paris trying to escape the guilt he’s feeling with alcohol. Arthur tells Dermot his younger brother has died, leaving the Malenfer family without a male heir and asks Dermot to go to Malenfer Manor to find the birth certificate of his illegitimate sons so the Malenfer name does not cease to exist. At the Manor only three remaining Malenfers live, Madame, Arthur’s mother, Sophie, Arthur’s widowed sister, and Simonne, Arthur’s niece. Simonne is regarded as the black sheep of the family, but she is the sole heir to the Malenfer estate and is engaged to the son of the Mayor of the nearby village. The reason why the Malenfer name is in danger is because of a curse a witch has spoken out over the family centuries ago, since that day very few Malenfers have lived into old age and died of natural causes. The twins, who work and live on the estate, are in danger of the curse now it is known that they are Malenfers. When people are starting to die it’s up to Dermot, Arthur and Simonne to solve the mystery and try to get rid of the curse of Malenfer Manor.

Normally I don’t like novels where war plays a major role. However, I did like this book, the scenes set during the war and the fighting give a good explanation why the various characters behave like they do. I really liked the atmosphere in this book, of the maybe haunted Malenfer Manor. I also liked how McChesney makes you doubt if the deaths are due to the curse or if they have a more mundane cause.

My only point of critique is that I would have liked to know more about the witch. At the beginning of the novel she is hanged because of accusations she had made and more could have been done with that; why did she made those accusations, were they true or not?

Nonetheless a very good read.

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King (review)

Although The Shining wasn’t my first Stephen King book (that was Silver Bullet) it was one that I read soon afterwards, curled up in bed at night losing sleep because I couldn’t put it down. I reread The Shining about a year and a half ago, years after my last reread and I was disappointed. Although I liked it, I didn’t love it as much as I remember.

I was a bit afraid that Doctor Sleep would be disappointing, too. I shouldn’t have been afraid because it was the best Stephen King read since I read Duma Key (that is not to say I didn’t like the other books of him I read since).

Doctor Sleep pick up a little while after the Overlook Hotel has burned to the ground, Wendy and Danny are still in contact with Dick Hallorann, who helps Danny with problems relating to what happened at the Overlook. Flash forward about 30 years and Dan is, like his father, an alcoholic with a temper. After an incident he moves on to a new town where he gets a new job and his boss helps him joining the AA. A few years later Dan works and lives in the local hospice, where he’s got the nickname Doctor Sleep because he,and cat Azzie, help the clients die peacefully. In a nearby town a girl named Abra is born shortly after Dan has joined the AA, like Dan she’s got the shining. From about 5 months old she’s in contact with Dan off and on, until she get a shining “emergency” message from another boy with the shining who is killed by a group of people, the True Knot, who travel through America in RVs and live off the “steam” of children with the shining. Abra now asks Dan to help her, because she is in danger of the True Knot, who want to kidnap Abra since she has the brightest shining they’ve ever come across.

It’s a worthy follow up to The Shining. Where The Shining was about the evil within (people and the hotel) and had an almost claustrophobic atmosphere Doctor Sleep is about the danger that comes from the outside. The scare isn’t in blood and gore but psychological; what people can do to each other and how desperation can drive people.

You don’t have to have read The Shining to be able to enjoy Doctor Sleep, although it helps understanding all the references.

City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments #2) – Cassandra Clare

Today was too hot to do anything else than sit as still as possible and read. This means I had a chance to finish Cassandra Clare’s second book in her The Mortal Instruments series, City of Ashes.

Clary’s mother is still in some sort of coma and Clarry is still getting to terms with finding out Jace is her brother. Valentine shows up again and steals the second of the Mortal Instruments, the sword kept by the Silent Brothers used to see if Shadowhunter is lying or not. He wants to turn this sword into a tool he can use for his plans by converting it from good to evil. To do so he needs the blood of a young warlock, a young vampire, a young werewolf and a young pixie. Jace gets blamed by the Inquisitor of the Clave of being Valentine’s spy and helping him. She doesn’t believe him when he tells her what Valentine is planning which means that Clary, Jace and the others are the ones that have to try to stop Valentine.

I did enjoy this book, not as much as the first but enough to keep reading this series. I still like Clare’s abillity to keep up the action, although more quiet moments would also be nice. Her habit of only hinting at things that will happen in the future is at times annoying but it also makes you want to keep reading.

Clary is a little less the stereotypical YA fantasy teenage heroin than in the first book and more real with her struggles about how she feels about Jace and Simon and a bit more considerate to others. Still, she is, at times, a typical teenager and you just want to give her a good kick up the backside but that’s just how teenagers can be.

My biggest gripe is the sort of cliffhanger at the end of the book, where it is unknown if Clary’s mom is going to wake up or not. I don’t like books ending this way because it makes them feel unfinished, rather one long book chopped into shorter books than books that can stand on it’s own. It also makes the author seem a bit desperate for her readers to come back to the next installment.  This series doesn’t need a teaser to keep you reading. Once I can forgive, but let it happen twice in two books and I get annoyed.

The Lamp of the Wicked (Merrily Watkins #5) – Phil Rickman

I’m really enjoying Rickman’s Merrily Watkins series. Which tells the story of a female vicar in a small parish near the English and Welsh border. Not only has she become vicar not too long after it has been decided that woman can become vicars in the Church of England but she’s also the Deliverance Consultant (a nice term for exorcist) for the Hereford area. Merrily is a young widow with a teenage daughter, Jane. What I like about this series is that it doesn’t only deal with the exorcist part of Merrily’s job but also her own and her daughter’s life and stuggles. Throughout the series all regular characters have changed. Also, when dealing with Merrily’s job as Deliverance Consultant it isn’t done in an over-the-top way. It’s dealt with as I think it might be dealt with in real life, with care and some scepticism.

This fifth installmant is about a possible serial murderer who is inspired by the Fred and Rosemary West killings. Merrily is having a lot on her plate in this book; the fire of Gomer Parry’s yard (killing his nephew), her relationship with Lol, Jane’s depressed feelings, a new parishioner who anonymously donates a lot of money Ledwardine’s church (but what does she want for it in return?), DI Bliss’ need to prove himself and Huw’s personal history with the murderer and victims. This book also deals with hypersensitivity for power lines.

All this might make a confusing story but Rickman pulls it off without confusing the reader. At times I got a bit exasperated by Jane’s behaviour (even if she’s a teenager) and I loved how Lol is starting to find himself. It’s also interesting to see that Merrily and Lol’s relationship is not so very different from Jane’s and Eirion’s, despite Jane and Merrily thinking it’s very different.

Like the previous book this book has a faster pace than the first three, which I like. Usually when reading a series in relative fast succession I burn out after a couple (Sigma Force, Charlie Parker) but I still want to come back to this series soon after I finish a book. It’s just that I want to know what’s coming next for the characters, how they are going to deal with situations that have arisen and how they will progress.

I can really recommend this series to anyone who likes mysteries. It’s almost a cozy mystery series, but not quite.

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1) – Cassandra Clare

To be honest, for a long time I’ve been trying to avoid popular Young Adult books, and especially series and then in partical series that aren’t finished. I read Harry Potter, which I start just before The Goblet of Fire came out, and loved it. I read Twilight, after all of them were released, and I was disappointed. And I picked up The Hunger games, again after all books were released, and really liked them (except for the ending). However, with all kinds of YA series going around, being popular and being made into movies I was hesitant to start *another* YA series which has magic, vampires and paranormal stuff in it. But after recommendations of both a friend of my sister and from people on my ebook forum and a need to read something quick and easy (not meant as a negative!) I caved and got the first book in The Mortal Instruments series, City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare, and I’m glad I did.

City of Bones tells the story of Clary, who lives in New York with her mother, her father having died in a car crash when she was young. Clary’s only real friend is Simon, a nerd and novel starts when they are going to a club (which Simon of course hates but goes along because Clary likes it). There Clary sees a group of three young people lure another boy into a maintenance room and kill him. It turns out that the victim was a demon and the three murders are demon hunters, or a Shadowhunter. A couple of days later one of the three, Jace, catches up with Clary and when she receives a call from her mother, who is obviously being attacked and tells her not to come home, takes her with him to the Instute after he finds her, hurt, in her apartment after she did go home and was attacked by a demon. The Institute is one of several scattered around the world where Shadowhunters can go and the one in New York is ran by the parents of the other two Shadowhunters, Isabelle and Alec who also live there.

It turns out that a bad Shadowhunter, Valentine, isn’t dead. Fifteen years earlier he almost destroyed the Shadowhunters and thought to have commited suicide. Clary’s mum, who is kidnapped by Valentine, turns out to be a Shadowhunter gone into hiding and has taken with her and hid the Mortal Cup, which can turn normal humans in Shadowhunters, from Valentine who wanted to create and army with it. With the help of not only the three young Shadowhunter but also Simon Clary is on a mission not only to find and rescue her mother but also to retrieve the Mortal Cup and bring it to safety.

Of course there are a lot of elements that you can find in Harry Potter and many other YA novels; a teenager that never felt to fit in with her peers turns out to be special, the quest for an important and dangerous artifact, the return of a Big Baddy thought to have died after trying to destroy his society, the Big Baddy wanting a “pure”  society and not to forget betrayal and the importance of friendship.

That said, it was a quick and very entertaining read. Whilst reading I thought, occasionally, about the similarities between this book and the Harry Potter series but it didn’t really bother me. The book had a good pace, with a lot of action, and during the more introspective moment I did want to smack Cary in the head at times (how can she be so blind?!). It certainly isn’t the best book, or even YA book I’ve read, but it does what I like in books: entertain. It’s a nice and easy summer read in my opinion. Hopefully the next books won’t disappoint.

The film of this book is released in cinema on the 22nd of August in the Netherlands, the trailer looking promising.

Review: Cemetery Dance

Cemetery DanceCemetery Dance by Douglas Preston

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After four books in the Pendergast series to focus mainly on main character Special Agent Pendergast it’s nice go back to basics so to speak. Unlike the previous books in the series Cemetery Dance is very similar to Relic and Reliquary.

Something strange is wandering through New York, maybe it’s paranormal maybe it’s something else. Pendergast takes on the case with Vinnie D’Agosta. A lot of other, familiar characters are back too although some only for a very short time.

Although the set-up of the story is very similar to the first three books it’s a refreshing read after the Diogenes trilogy and Wheel of Darkness. Interestingly, no reference is made to what happened at the end of Wheel of Darkness, which was supposed to have changed Pendergast forever. This change isn’t noticable in Cemetery Dance.

This isn’t, however, a book for people who haven’t read any of the other Pendergast books. The characters aren’t really introduced and I can imagine it would be very confusing for new readers.

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Review: The Black Echo

The Black Echo (Harry Bosch, #1)The Black Echo by Michael Connelly
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

About half way through this book Harry Bosch explains that a police investigations takes time to gather pace. In the beginning it takes a long while to find clues and get started but at a certain point it gathers momentum and sets off properly. It’s the same with this novel: it takes a while to gather pace and at a certain point it finally gets going.

I liked this book but I wasn’t ecstatic about it. It’s okay and average. Harry is likeable enough and the story resolves itself in a satisfying way. It wasn’t a real mystery to me, I knew almost right away who were involved with the murder and bank robbery. My main problem was that it took so long to get going.

Because it’s only the first book in the series I might pick up the next in the near future to see if it improves.

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Review: Witch

WitchWitch by Barbara Michaels
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very entertaining and well written book.
It’s got elements of various genres I like: supernatural, thriller and romance (but not too much). I also like books set in villages and Michaels does a very good job is describing the village and setting the atmosphere.

The characters are also well written, those that you should like you like and those that the reader shouldn’t like are unlikeable and often you feel pity for them too.

The story itself isn’t special, about a cottage in which 200 years ago a witch lived, a village with some very religious people and a disturbed boy. Nothing gory or scary, it’s a cozy haunted house story and very enjoyable and easy to read.

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