Perfume: The Story of a Murderer By Patrick Süskind Review!

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Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (1985) by Patrick Süskind is an interesting and original book in the crime and historical genres. It is translated wonderfully by John E. Woods.


Following the story of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille and set in 18th century France, the young Grenouille, living in the slums, has already an excellent sense of smell. As he grows older he becomes an apprentice to a well-established perfumer who teaches him the tricks of the trade. But soon his obsession with smell becomes overpowering and he has a desire to capture the smell of various objects like wood which is newly-cut. But then what originally was a harmless interest or harmless obsession soon turns sinister when his sense of smell is caught by the scent of a young female virgin and soon he is killing females in the pursuit of the scent he desires for his perfume.


It is quite a haunting and terrifying book. With Grenouille as the main character we see a lot of the book through his perspective and it is harrowing. He is an evil, sexually depraved and very obsessional person and he is also a very egotistical character who believes he can do whatever he wants and get away with it. A very complex and fascinating character for a book, wouldn’t like to run into a real version of him in a darkened alley though! This story takes a look at the depraved mind and can’t have been easy for Süskind to write. It has a very honest and indepth feel to it. The story is also very fresh and original and it is brilliantly written. Grenouille strikes me as a very lonely and isolated character who in a very weird way I think thinks when he captures these women he is gaining a closeness to another human being. While not every person who is lonely, isolated and doesn’t belong is going to go out and kill a lot of people it shows that with some people that loneliness can drive them strange. Though my fear is that some other readers might see this as an excuse to give to Grenouille which I think would be outrageous. While to me it isn’t an excuse, it does show the reasoning behind why he is acting in such a way but there’s definitely something in him too that leads him to act on the weird fantasies which have come into his head. Yes this book is very psychological!


In all Grenouille kills 25 women to try to create his scent and the ending is surreal and just as original as the rest of the book. There is a lot of issues in this story like ambition getting the better of someone and the want to have a purpose and all of these feelings in Grenouille has come to have drastic consequences. That whole thing of ‘to be somebody’ at all costs and Grenouille very much strikes me as being like that. So long feeling invisible he now wants to be very visible and he’s willing to kill to be so. It’s very heavy stuff but amazingly written. There is also the superficial element. Grenouille seems to believe peoples’ lives aren’t worth anything in comparison to creating a scent and that all kind of ties into that whole idea of beauty at all costs. I think there is a bit of a metaphor there. The book very obviously deals with a very important issue of people, women in this case, being in danger from unsuspecting weirdos and Grenouille  would most certainly make readers cautious of possible real-life people like Grenouille which is a very good thing.


Süskind writes here in a very poetic style. At times it reads like a long poem. He leaves no stone unturned and writes a realistic picture of the various difficult and deep topics in this book. It’s a complex and wonderfully written book.


A great read. Brilliantly written.


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Corpus By Rory Clements Review!

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Corpus (2016) by Rory Clements is an absorbing historical thriller set in 1936.


A twenty-six year old woman Nancy gets past the Gestapo in Berlin to bring important papers to a Jewish scientist Arnold Lindberg/Schmidt and a few weeks later she is found dead in her bedroom in Cambridge holding a silver syringe. This leads to her death being put down as an overdose or suicide. But not everyone is convinced. Enter Tom Wilde.


Brought into the case by his friend and the woman he loves Lydia who was friends with the murdered woman, the history professor embarks on his first case to solve and gradually he finds himself in a world of murder, prejudice, corruption, blackmail, politics, social issues and family entanglements amidst a changing world. One part thriller, one part historical with a splash of romance thrown in, this is an engrossing read. One moment you are reading about the various suspects and all the complex and intriguing web that surrounds the murder of Nancy then you are reading about the various political motivations of all the various characters which is a great study in human nature and then you move to the budding relationship between Tom and Lydia and next thing you are in the midst of historical moments like Edward, Prince of Wales’ abdication and history from the terrible reigns of Hitler and Stalin.


It’s an incredibly interesting and jam-packed read. It is quite a long book but it’s worth the effort to find time to read. This is part of a series of Tom Wilde books and this is the first one in that series. The characters and the dynamics are very well-written and there is an array of very different characters in this book with differing viewpoints which of course adds a lot of drama and tension to proceedings. While there was a lot of different characters none of them I identified with in a way of relating to them but I most certainly have met people and know of people like a lot of these characters so there is a very realistic element to the characters. The book is very well-researched so kudos to Clements who clearly put a lot of work into that side of it and the writing is top class too.


This book also has a vibe of a critical thinking university atmosphere to it. The characters seem to be characters who think about a lot of things but it seems more in a structural way rather than a feeling way often. Not always but very often and maybe due to that there is sometimes a coldness to the characters but there is people like that so it’s a realistic picture of people who look at things in an analytical sense instead of from the heart. It was fascinating to see the flickers of real emotion coming through in parts but which they repressed with characters like Tom and Lydia. It isn’t particularly light reading and has a thought-provoking element to it and a lot of human dynamics, society and the relationships between people, what they put forward and what they keep back.


The mystery is brilliant. I didn’t figure it out and it was a surprise. Not saying they weren’t on my list but it was a long list and they weren’t near the top. So it was very well guarded. The writer does a great job by adding so many people into the story that you don’t know who is involved and who isn’t and great mystery writing mixes the reader up and Clements most certainly wrote a book here that twists and turns over and over.


A really great and original read. Excellently written.


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Private L.A. By James Patterson & Mark Sullivan Review!

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Private L.A. (2014) by James Patterson & Mark Sullivan is the seventh book in the Private series and it is an intriguing read full of twists and turns.


In this outing, Private Jack Morgan is on the case of a missing family. The case is high profile in the media as the parents Jennifer and Thom Harlow are well-known and respected film stars and philanthropists. Now both they and their three young children have been kidnapped without a trace. Soon however Morgan gets more than he bargains for as the case becomes more and more complex the deeper he and his team at Private dig. On top of all this Morgan is investigating a terrorist group called No Prisoners where a shooting on a beach draws Morgan’s attention to the terrorist gang. What follows is more and more killings and terror with Private running out of time to save as many peoples’ lives as they can. I thought the two cases were written very well. There is great indepth into the characters and some of them in both stories are extremely dark, evil characters so I wouldn’t say it was easy for Patterson and Sullivan to write how their minds worked. But both stories were written very honestly and were very interesting to read with lots of twists and turns in both in excellent fast-paced chapters.There is also quite an interesting side storyline involving Morgan’s run-ins with his brother Tommy who is accused of murder and trying to maintain Morgan was involved with the murder too. Their estranged relationship is interesting to read. A lot of drama there to say the least.


A part of the book that did my head in slightly was Justine’s overthinking of her problems. I actually quite like her as a character otherwise so I think this is unfortunate but she doesn’t half go on and to be honest I wouldn’t mind but some of her problems don’t seem all that big and she just seems to like moaning. It’s a pity because I like that she is a strong, open-minded, intelligent, independent woman. But a lot of those sections I could have done without. They add nothing to the story.


The great thing about the Private books is that even though it is a series, this felt like a standalone book so I would imagine even though this is the first longer-length Private book I read that each book in the series can be read in any order.


A great read which keeps you turning page after page quicker than you planned to.


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The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn By Mark Twain Review!

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The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn (1884) by Mark Twain is a stunningly crafted adventure story.


This book deals with many themes like friendship and adventure and more serious themes like freedom, racism and slavery. This book was set in times when slavery was still legal and Twain writes a book here which shows both slavery and the systematic racism in society, some of which is still sadly there today. Through Huckleberry and Jim’s friendship we see a gorgeous friendship that bypasses skin colour and the barriers of a racist society. Twain shows us in this book through characters like Miss Watson and Sally Phelps that some people who are white have their heads so much up their asses that they can’t see oppression and injustice in front of them and seem to think nothing bad of slavery or the idea of Jim being took away from his family.


This story is a fantastic story of friendship between Huck and Jim. We see how Huck changes from not really thinking about slavery to feeling passionate about not letting his friend return to that life after they go through so much after setting off on a raft down the Mississippi River. What I really love about their friendship is that this doesn’t come about by Jim being in some way understanding of his friend’s indifference but just simply by Huck seeing Jim as a fellow human being and seeing the smokescreen put up by society to hide their prejudice. In contrast the character of Tom Sawyer seems to be overly conditioned by the society he lives in. Through Tom we see how an impressionable young mind can be poisoned by the structural prejudice present in society. Though there may be hope for him to change his ways in the future here we find him not letting Jim know that he is free just to amuse his own imagination and he seems to like the power he feels entitled to.


My favourite character is Jim though I like Huck too. I found there was a lot of depth to Jim and there was a lot more to his story than the reader would ever know. I also really liked his compassion and the intelligence about how life really was that he possessed. He was clearly a character who had been forced to see more of life, often not good, than Huck and Tom probably ever would.


While Jim goes on a journey to seek literal freedom, Huck also goes on a journey to freedom as he tries to rid himself of the shackles of systematic racism. Both of their journeys are very brave and together they make each other feel stronger to see this all through and achieve freedom and contentedness. Their journeys are very interesting and the interweaving of those journeys is fantastic to read.


There is racist language in this book but there is offensive, prejudiced language in many books. I personally think as a reader and a writer the main thing to look at in regards to such language is what is it’s purpose for being there. What is the author’s meaning for putting it in? And I don’t think there is a problem if the reason is to show the prejudice in society as opposed to do it for spite and cruelty. In this book I believe it is the former reason and I think Twain put it in because it’s a true reflection of what prejudiced and brainwashed people do say and if we sweep under the carpet what is said in a way prejudiced people like that are being let away with it as opposed to being called out for it and brainwashed people are denied a chance to educate themselves. Pretending something doesn’t exist lets prejudiced people like that off the hook. Twain himself was anti-slavery and racism and I don’t any malice is meant. In fact I think Twain is actually showing how wrong slavery and racism are so I think it is done with good intentions. I actually think he was quite brave to write a book like this in the time that he did.


An excellent and important read.


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Along Came a Spider By James Patterson Review!

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Along Came a Spider (1993) by James Patterson is the first ever Alex Cross novel.


In this book, Cross is faced with the investigations into the murders of two black prostitutes and an infant child. While he is investigating, his nemesis Gary Soneji appears in the book after kidnapping two white children from affluent families called Maggie Rose and Michael Goldberg. Soneji had been working as a maths teacher at their school as a cover for his plans of kidnapping. Cross is mad about being took off the previous case and how more attention is being given to this case while the case of the two black prostitutes and the infant child are being pushed to one side.

Soon into his new case he meets the first woman who is his love interest in the books Jezzie Flannagan and they begin working together on the case. She is the head of the children’s Secret Service. It soon becomes apparent that the two children are buried alive in a farmhouse coffin. Soneji kills FBI agent Roger Graham and soon after Goldberg’s body is found. Cross is now in deep over his head in his first case featuring Gary Soneji.

This book is brilliantly put together. The main person in the kidnapping apart from Soneji I did work out but it is by no means obvious. It is a great little mystery excellently written and from this first book it is easy to see how interest was brought to this amazing series starting with book one. It’s a very addictive read which you’ll find hard to put down.

This book covers many important topics like interracial relationships with Cross’ and Flannagan’s relationship, race in general and class. In this book we get a great introduction to Cross, his family, his life, his investigating methods and his integrity as a person and in his job. The background on all the characters is great. We get very complex, rounded characters which help make the book very interesting. The plot combined with Patterson’s signature fast chapters is a wonderful read and having read other books in the series it was great to get to read how it all began.


A fantastic must-read.


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The Quickie By James Patterson And Michael Ledwidge Review!

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The Quickie (2007) by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge is a wonderful and engrossing read.


Following the story of protagonist cop Lauren Stillwell, we as readers get to know her very well in both her personal and professional life. After seeing her husband Paul with a blonde woman who she thinks he might be cheating on her with she embarks on revenge by having her own affair with fellow cop Scott. But their night of passion soon turns into a nightmare when she witnesses Paul and Scott fighting before Paul puts an unconscious Scott into the boot of his car. When Scott’s body is found later Lauren is left in the unenviable position of having to go against her instincts as a person and a cop to protect her husband and their future together.


I loved the drama of this book. It was a read that kept me turning the page. The plot I found very intriguing. Instead of a cop on a case trying to find the truth, Lauren was a cop on a mission to stop the truth from coming out and you really feel the pressure she must be under throughout. I also found it really interesting reading about the human element of Lauren and Paul trying to have a baby and Lauren’s pain and struggles to get pregnant. On the downside the outcome was predictable and I think it has been done before and I did feel that Lauren was being constantly given excuses for the things she did wrong like cheating. It would have made her more human for me if she had the affair for no reason other than she wanted to. While I loved the element of her covering for Paul which created a lot of suspense, some of it was slightly contrived as there was moments where she should have been caught out really.


Despite these downsides, I really enjoyed the book. The quick pace of the short chapters helped make it unputdownable and there was many twists and turns throughout. There was great pieces in this book about unconditional love, betrayal and finding strength under difficult circumstances. A very good read.


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The Curse By Jina S. Bazzar Review!

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The Curse (2018) by Jina S. Bazzar is the prequel to Bazzar’s debut novel Heir of Ashes and is a stunning introduction to the series.


In this book we follow the story of protagonist Yoncey Fosch who is the leader of the Unseelie Dhiultadh. He is a huge family man and sets about preventing his brother’s death from a plague. He agrees to help out his biggest enemy Queen Titania’s consort in exchange for his brother’s safety. But soon he finds himself in a huge dilemma and his family man instincts come into play again with devastating consequences.


In the first part we are given great background on the characters and the situation about to take place and it brings us perfectly with ease into the second part where we find drama and emotion brimming. The heartbreaking decision Fosch has to make without giving too much away pulled and shredded my heart in pieces and I had so much admiration for him. He was my favourite character. The emotions of the characters is gorgeously written and there is very varied characters who are all very rounded. The human dynamics are great. I was a little confused as to why the firstborn had to be female as opposed to male or non-binary as there is people in all genders who can give birth but I think what was meant was assigned female so I just took it as that and it wasn’t as confusing after that.


This is an excellent short read that you can read in one or two sittings and it really gets you wanting to read the first book in the series which at some stage I plan on doing. There is twists and turns aplenty in this book which is crafted stunningly. The writer is most definitely very talented. Recently I have been reading more Fantasy novels and this was another wonderful read from the genre. Sometimes the emotions and life side of books in the genre can be missing but not here. It is a brilliant read for Fantasy and non-Fantasy readers alike and I really enjoyed it.


A fantastic read.


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