Wednesday, June 18, 2014

THE SON a New Crime Thriller By Jo Nesbo

The Son by Jo Nesbo is the latest work by the Norwegian crime novelist, best known for his popular series of books featuring Oslo police inspector Harry Hole.

The Son is a departure by Nesbo, to a story about an escaped prison inmate and his trail of vengeful acts. The inmate is Sonny Loftus, known as The Son, who exacts violent revenge against people who he believes were responsible for the death of his policeman father. At times, the movements of The Son seem almost superhuman as he attacks his enemies from out of nowhere.

But the character at the heart of the novel is Chief Inspector Simon Kefas, who tracks The Son along his relentless rampage. Balding, out of shape, and near retirement, Kefas is an unlikely hero. In his private life, he agonizes over his younger wife's growing blindness and her need for an expensive operation to save her eyesight.

In his police work, Kefas is methodical and steady, qualities that make him an effective investigator. Simon Kefas is a striking contrast to Nesbo's long-running main character --- the obsessive, haunted, psychologically unstable Harry Hole.

The Son is a fast paced, gripping read with a wrenching late plot twist. The novel confirms Jo Nesbo's place as one of the most entertaining crime novelists writing today.

BEACH RATING:  4 Palm Trees

Thursday, June 5, 2014

MR. MERCEDES a Twisted Crime Tale From Stephen King

Stephen King's new novel, Mr. Mercedes, is a dark crime tale that involves a twisted, murderous contest of wits between a retired cop and a manipulative sociopath.

The retired cop is former Detective Bill Hodges. His sociopath adversary is Brady Hartsfield, a mass murderer who drives an ice cream truck. Brady had earlier plowed a stolen Mercedes into a crowd of people, doing horrendous damage before escaping. It was a case that Detective Hodges never closed before retiring.

The killer is back again with a taunting new letter to Hodges that reopens his investigation and sets off a new battle between the cop and the killer that moves inexorably toward another coming mass murder event.

The plot of Mr. Mercedes is not all that original, but it's a chilling, fast-reading work narrated in the author's usual sprawling, colloquial, "Big Mac and fries" style. Another familiar King touch is the joining of an oddball team of allies to stop an evil enemy. King has always excelled at the creation of offbeat characters. The most interesting one here turns out to be Holly Gibney, a middle-aged child-woman with mental stability issues, who nearly takes over the last part of the novel.

Stephen King is at his best in his Horror fiction, but he has tried his hand at other types of fiction as well. Mr. Mercedes is the best of the handful of Crime novels he has done, and is much more satisfying than last year's slow, tepid Joyland.

BEACH RATING:  3 Palm Trees