From Barnes & Noble -
Just a few hours before the gala opening ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympics, a murder is discovered. The corpse is, in effect, an effect, an editorial and a declaration of war, a warning that the world's most famous athletic competition will not be allowed to proceed as planned. To stop this potential mass killer in his tracks, Private Investigation detective Peter Knight and newspaper reporter Karen Pope pool their savvy. A James Patterson action-thriller to keep your mind alert; born to be a number one bestseller.
— Sessalee Hensley
Kirkus Reviews -
Note to self: Do not schedule a vacation in North Korea, at least not without an escape plan. The protagonist of Johnson's (Parasites Like Us, 2003, etc.) darkly satisfying if somewhat self-indulgent novel is Pak Jun Do, the conflicted son of a singer. He knows no more, for "That was all Jun Do's father, the Orphan Master, would say about her." The Orphan Master runs an orphanage, but David Copperfield this ain't: Jun Do may have been the only non-orphan in the place, but that doesn't keep his father, a man of influence, from mistreating him as merrily as if he weren't one of his own flesh and blood. For this is the land of Kim Jong Il, the unhappy Potemkin Village land of North Korea, where even Josef Stalin would have looked around and thought the whole business excessive. Johnson's tale hits the ground running, and fast: Jun Do is recruited into a unit that specializes in kidnapping Koreans, and even non-Koreans, living outside the magic kingdom: doctors, film directors, even the Dear Leader's personal sushi chef. "There was a Japanese man. He took his dog for a walk. And then he was nowhere. For the people who knew him, he'd forever be nowhere." So ponders Jun Do, who, specializing in crossing the waters to Japan, sneaking out of tunnels and otherwise working his ghostlike wonders, rises up quickly in the state apparatus, only to fall after a bungled diplomatic trip to the United States. Johnson sets off in the land of John le Carré, but by the time Jun Do lands in Texas we're in a Pynchonesque territory of impossibilities, and by the time he's in the pokey we're in a subplot worthy of Akutagawa. Suffice it to say that Jun Do switches identities, at which point thriller becomes picaresque satire and rifles through a few other genres, shifting narrators, losing and regaining focus and point of view. The reader will have to grant the author room to accommodate the show-offishness, which seems to say, with the rest of the book, that in a world run by a Munchkin overlord like Kim, nothing can be too surreal. Indeed, once Fearless Leader speaks, he's a model of weird clarity: "But let's speak of our shared status as nuclear nations another time. Now let's have some blues." Ambitious and very well written, despite the occasional overreach. When it's made into a film, bet that Kim Jong Il will want to score an early bootleg.
Kirkus Reviews -
A Met officer loses her scull. Becca Meredith could have been an Olympic contender in rowing before she snapped her wrist in an accident. Leaving the university, she eventually joined the Met and worked her way up the ranks to DCI, West London Major Crimes. Along the way she married, divorced, fell out with a uni friend who later joined the Met, began an affair with Kieran, an emotionally overwrought war veteran doing canine search-and-rescue work, and became known as rather solitary—and a bitch. When her body is found trapped in Thames weeds and her scull some distance away, it becomes apparent that she was rowing again, secretly training for another go at the Olympics, and that her death was no accident. The Yard's Det. Supt. Duncan Kincaid is asked to investigate and concentrate on Becca's ex, Freddie Atterton. Unwilling to focus his queries on Freddie alone, Kincaid—aided by colleagues Cullen and Bell, and with input from his wife, Det. Insp. Gemma James, now on leave to settle 3-year-old Charlotte into their household—uncovers a series of rapes that lead to a now retired Met bigwig. A petrol bomb is lobbed into Kieran's boatshed and his rescue dog Finn goes ballistic at the scent of a former uni rower. Is Becca's assailant one of these two men? More will die before matters are resolved and the beautiful scull hand-built for Becca can be taken out for a memorial row. To the customary pleasures of the Kincaid/ James ménage (Necessary as Blood, 2009, etc.), Crombie adds the interest generated by the history of the Henley Regatta pitting Oxford against Cambridge and the relationship between canine search-and-rescue handlers and their animals.
A Perfect Blood (Rachel Morgan Series #10) by
Kirkus Reviews -
In book 10 of a popular urban fantasy detective series, Cincinnati witch-turned-demon Rachel Morgan confronts a powerful hate group. Nothing ever comes easy for Rachel. She's accepted that she's now a demon, but unfortunately, demons are universally mistrusted and have no legal status—in fact, she's listed as dead—which makes it complicated for her to renew her Ohio driver's license. She does want the other demons to think she's dead, but the charmed silver bracelet that severs her connection to the demon collective also blocks most of her magic. As a result, when strangely mutated and mutilated witch corpses begin turning up, she's both blamed for demonic activity by law enforcement and (apparently) nearly defenseless when the true perpetrators target Rachel (never count her out, though). It's all part of a convoluted plot by HAPA (Humans Against Paranormals Association) to synthesize demon blood and use it to exterminate all Inderlanders (vampires, Weres, witches, etc.). As per usual, Rachel's struggle with self-acceptance, her good heart, her rejection of everyone's advice, her impulsiveness and recklessness and her all-around gift for causing chaos get her into trouble. Those qualities up the action quotient, but it would be nice to see Rachel's emotional growth progress a little more quickly. Every novel ends on a high note of confidence, but by the time the next one opens, Rachel has already plunged back into neurosis and worry, restarting the cycle. On the positive side, Rachel's relationship with elf businessman/drug lord Trent appears to be deepening; but again, it's not as far advanced as some might wish. Still fun, but could reach farther.