Friday, October 30, 2015

Catching Up: A DANCE AT THE SLAUGHTER HOUSE by Lawrence Block

A Dance at the Slaughterhouse (Matthew Scudder #9)From the back of the book
The police can’t prove that socialite Richard Thurman arranged the rape, torture and murder of his beautiful, pregnant wife. The dead woman’s brother thinks Matt Scudder can.
During his ongoing battle with the bottle, ex-cop, ex-boozer Scudder left a little bit of his soul on every seedy corner of the Big Apple. But this case will drag him deeper into the mire than he’s ever been before – launching him on a lethal tour of New York’s ‘snuff’ film, sex-for-sale underworld…where an innocent young life is a commodity to be bought, perverted and ultimately destroyed.

My review
The world is an unforgiving place and for Matt Scudder, it's the very bottom of humanities pecking order that helps him ply his trade. Wallowing in the pits of despair, reformed alcoholic and ex-cop Scudder gets knee deep in the criminal underworld of exploration, false promises, and broken dreams as he tries to solve a rape and murder of which the key suspect is the victim's husband. The case leads him down a dark rabbit hole that shines a light on the snuff film trade.  

Lawrence Block doesn't deviate from the dastardly nature of the disturbed mind, coupling rape and murder, snuff films and corruption into a noir soaked story that is nothing short of addictive.

Despite being a private eye book at it's core, A DANCE AT THE SLAUGHTER HOUSE does read as a traditional police procedural, such is the Q&A platform. The dark nature of the plot instills a truer sense of noir which differentiates it from the sub crime genre.

A DANCE AT THE SLAUGHTER HOUSE reads well as a standalone (I read the first 3 series books some time ago, this being book 9) and is new reader friendly, something I look for when wanting to give a series a try. 

I highly recommend picking this one up, irrespective if you're familiar with the character.  

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Catching Up: OUT OF SIGHT by Elmore Leonard

Out of SightForbidden romance, a prison break, necessary violence, and a score too big to ignore – Jack Foley, a career bank robber has his hands full in Elmore Leonard’s OUT OF SIGHT.

On the run following a successful prison break, Foley, dressed as a guard runs into US Marshal Karen Sicsco just as he breathes the faint scent of freedom. In no time Karen’s bounded up in the truck with Foley as his getaway driver makes for greener pastures. The two get to talking and an instant rapport is formed that plays out as the novel progresses – even after the two are separated by circumstances both of which they control their connection is continually referenced and forms a large part of the broader plot mechanics.

Like any novel written by Elmore Leonard, the dialogue is crisp, clever and straight to the point – you won’t find any filler content in OUT OF SIGHT. The plot is multifaceted; from the original prison break to the two robberies that play out leading to Karen and Foley’s reunion – a lot happens but it’s written in such a way as the reader doesn’t get lost in the different perspectives. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Returning to the scene of the crime: LEMONS NEVER LIE

Lemons Never Lie (Alan Grofield, #4)From the back of the book
When he's not pulling heists with his friend Parker, Alan Grofield runs a small theatre in Indiana. But putting on shows costs money and jobs have been thin, which is why Grofield agrees to listen to Andrew Myers' plan to knock over a brewery. Unfortunately, Myer's plan is insane - so Grofield walks out on him. And you don't walk out on Myers...

My review
This is the fourth novel to feature thief Alan Grofield in his own series (he makes a couple of appearances in Starks' more well known Parker books) and the first Richard Stark novel to be published by Hardcase Crime. 

For a relatively short novel Stark packed a lot of punch into this one. The story evolves from a failed attempt to lure Grofield into a shady snatch and grab planned by inexperienced and unprofessional crooks. Little did Grofield know that his very public stance by walking out on the deal would lead to him dodging bullets as well as throwing his own in turn.

LEMONS NEVER LIE is very enjoyable and easily readable for both Parker/Gorfield newcomers and those who are well read in either series.

This was my second time reading LEMONS NEVER LIE.   

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Trade Paperback Tuesday: BLOODSHOT REBORN VOL.1

Bloodshot Reborn, Vol 1: ColoradoTrade paperback Tuesday is an initiative of Previews World, a comics and associated paraphernalia magazine/catalog/online news resource which promotes the hottest trade paperbacks newly collected and published in the comic book industry. I'm borrowing the theme to focus on regular reviews of my favorite trades and/or comic story arcs.  
Title: COLORADO
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Mico Suayan (#1-4), Raul Allen (#5)
Published: 2015
Contains: Bloodshot Reborn #1-5

About
Bloodshot’s nanites made him a nearly unstoppable killing machine. His enhanced strength, speed, endurance, and healing made him the perfect weapon, and he served his masters at Project Rising Spirit — a private contractor trafficking in violence — very well. Now, Bloodshot is a shadow of his former self. He lives in self-imposed exile, reeling from the consequences of his past life and the recent events that nearly drove him mad. But when a rash of shootings by gunmen who appear to look just like Bloodshot begin, his guilt will send him on a mission to stop the killers, even if it means diving head-long into the violence that nearly destroyed him.

My thoughts
(review of collected issues) BLOODSHOT REBORN shows just how good a series reboot can be whilst still maintaining a solid semblance of character continuity. 

The opening issue of COLORADO sets the tone for an all new yet familiar hero who claims he's anything but while also introducing Bloodsquirt and Kay as unconventional sidekicks of sorts. Bloodsquirt adds a creepy comedic spin to Bloodshot's typically violent sojourn throughout the Valiant universe, while Kay, the late Geomancer who died fighting the Immortal Enemy in THE VALIANT serves as a reminder to Bloodshot aka Ray Garrison of what he's lost and the broken path of self destruction that's led him to a sleazy hotel in the middle of nowhere. 

The middle issues (#2-3) don't do much to progress the story, rather showcasing the violent and brutal side of Bloodshot that readers have come to expect - albeit a slightly skewed take with Project Rising Spirit replica Bloodshots causing murder and mayhem across the US. It's a natural way to progress Bloodshot, as a character from being more than a mortal man to the evolution of the killing machine he's destined to return to. 

Agent Festival is a nice addition in the middle of the story arc and adds another dimension that's been strangely absent throughout a lot of the Valiant books - providing a law enforcement element focused on tracking down the 'red circle killer'. 

Issue #4 introduces Magic, a little know character who looks set for a big role not just in Bloodshot Reborn but possibly the broader Valiant universe. The narrative teases her influence though the reader only catches a glimpse of her as a damsel in distress of sorts. 

Mico Suayan's art on issues #1-4 is flawless and took me back to the first Bloodshot (2012) iteration written by Duane Swierczynski. 

Rounding out the arc is the Bloodsquirt feature issue that is a nice change of pace and is a little psychedelic as the Bloodshot is thrust into the world of BloodSquirt. I really liked this more having reread it as part of reading the arc in its entirety. The art here deserves special attention, Raul Allen does a great job at inking a definitive look and feel to the change of pace intermission. 
   
COLORADO is a point of no return for Bloodshot, a very enjoyable introduction to a new path that pays tribute to what's come before and teases the future.

While COLORADO can easily be read without having prior knowledge of the character below are some comics which add that little bit extra and make COLORADO all the more enjoyable: 

    

Monday, October 19, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


This is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey. In order to get some consistency to my posting I thought I’d jump on board this great idea. As a self-proclaimed bookaholic, I love talking about my books and finding out what others are reading.


Here's my picks for this week:


Bloodshot Reborn, Vol 1: ColoradoBLOODSHOT REBORN: COLORADO by  Jeff Lemire (re-read for Trade Paperback Tuesday post. Originally read as collected issues #1-5)

Bloodshot’s nanites made him a nearly unstoppable killing machine. His enhanced strength, speed, endurance, and healing made him the perfect weapon, and he served his masters at Project Rising Spirit — a private contractor trafficking in violence — very well. Now, Bloodshot is a shadow of his former self. He lives in self-imposed exile, reeling from the consequences of his past life and the recent events that nearly drove him mad. But when a rash of shootings by gunmen who appear to look just like Bloodshot begin, his guilt will send him on a mission to stop the killers, even if it means diving head-long into the violence that nearly destroyed him.

Lemons Never Lie (Alan Grofield, #4)LEMONS NEVER LIE by Richard Stark (re-read)

When he's not pulling heists with his friend Parker, Alan Grofield runs a small theatre in Indiana. But putting on shows costs money and jobs have been thin, which is why Grofield agrees to listen to Andrew Myers' plan to knock over a brewery. Unfortunately, Myer's plan is insane - so Grofield walks out on him. And you don't walk out on Myers...

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Review: GATOR BAIT by Adam Howe

Gator BaitSmitty is a womanizer, piano player and opportunist who finds himself faced with a score too good to pass up; a dame to kill for, and bucket load of cash to run away with. The only thing standing in his way? The husband and owner of said cash, not to mention the monstrous gator lurking in the swap surrounding the Grinnin' Gator - the hotel/bar Smitty works (which is also owned by Croker - said dames husband). 

GATOR BAIT is a delicious dip into debauchery; a swamp pulp that perfects the prohibition period setting, playing homage to the pulps of yesterday. 

Smitty is a character that you either love or hate. His actions are brass and not without consequence yet you almost feel like he's the one being played - a puppet to his very own perversions taken advantage of by Croker's wife, Grace who knows how to get what she wants or make others get it for her.

GATOR BAIT is a fast paced read that doesn't waste a word exploiting the plot for all its worth and then some. 

Fans of Gill Brewer and Elmore Leonard will spot the similarities in dialogue and character and enjoy every bite sized chunk of GATOR BAIT. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Review: BROTHER by Ania Ahlborn

BrotherMichael Morrow is a displaced young man living a macabre life of murder and cannibalism. Having been kidnapped as a child, Michael grew up in a secluded family home that lived off the land - their game meat being unsuspecting travelers, junkies, and loners who would be little missed by those who know them. His mother, father, sister and brother all in on the family killing desensitized him, making murder a normal and accepted practice. He was forced to act on impulse and under the guidance of his 'loved ones'. 

Then came Alice, a record store clerk who immediately struck a chord with Michael's heartstrings. She was someone he could see a future with, a future that left behind the murder and mayhem he'd known so freely all his life. But Rebel, Michael's twisted and sadistic 'brother' had other plans. Plans that would turn Michael's life and everything he thought he knew on its head.

BROTHER is a great book. Author Ania Ahlborn's characters are emotionally deep and equally terrifying - she makes you care for Michael even though you know he's committed horrific acts of murder and dismemberment. Rebel is just plain bad - the personification of nightmares - a pitch black darkness to Michael's drab gray light. Reader beware, BROTHER is not for the faint of heart. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Trade Paperback Tuesday: RED CITY

Red CityTrade paperback Tuesday is an initiative of Previews World, a comics and associated paraphernalia magazine/catalog/online news resource which promotes the hottest trade paperbacks newly collected and published in the comic book industry. I'm borrowing the theme to focus on regular reviews of my favorite trades and/or comic story arcs.  

Title: RED CITY
Writer: Daniel Corey
Artist: Mark Dos Santos (#1-2), Anthony Diecidue (#3-4)
Published: 2014
Contains: Red City #1-4

About

In the wake of a system-wide civil war, hard-nosed interplanetary investigator Cal Talmage is given a simple mission to find a missing ambassador s daughter in Mars Central, aka RED CITY. The routine case quickly complicates as Cal finds himself in the midst of rival alien mobs, street vendettas and political conspiracies. He struggles with personal demons as he discovers that another war is brewing, and the lives of an entire race hang in the balance.

My thoughts
(review of collected issues) RED CITY is a cool concept let down by the complexity of characters and conflicting plot threads all vying for a slice of the readers attention. There is just too much going on too soon with the chief pitfall of RED CITY being the decision to cram, what actually is, a very interesting story into a 4 issue arc. 

The plot revolves around Cal Talmage, a former Mars PD Officer and decorated war veteran who has fallen from grace and is now seen as an expendable solution to a budding political problem between the Mercurians and the Neptunians. He's tasked with tracking down Talia Jalen, missing daughter of Ambassador Jalen and pivotal spokesperson for the Mercury / Neptune peace treaty. Sound the dime-store PI routine.

Cal's diagonal is pure pulp and Angel, his sexy sidekick is the femme fatale stereotype true to form in pulp/PI novels. The chemistry between the two didn't leap off the page despite some good but fleeting moments. As for the broader cast - each individual issue provided a run down of the key players which certainly helped but it was still too difficult to get into a story where there are many rival factions both political and military as well as underworld organisations all vying for the readers attention in a 4 issue story arc. Again - a great premise, just executed too quickly. 

The art from #1 and #2 are great and compliment the story nicely. Cal, Angel and the supporting cast are drawn well while the backgrounds are detailed and make the reader feel like they are on another planet. Anthony Diecidue tool over for #3 and #4 and it just didn't work. Each panel lacked background, preferring to focus on the character which is okay but too big a switch from the opening 2 issues. 

I've read RED CITY a couple of times now because I like where writer Daniel Corey was going with this, unfortunately the compressed storytelling and almost too easy path to Talia let down what could've been a very good read. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


This is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey. In order to get some consistency to my posting I thought I’d jump on board this great idea. As a self-proclaimed bookaholic, I love talking about my books and finding out what others are reading.


Here's my picks for this week:

Gator BaitGATOR BAIT by Adam Howe

Prohibition-era 1930s… After an affair with the wrong man's wife, seedy piano player Smitty Three Fingers flees the city and finds himself tinkling the ivories at a Louisiana honky-tonk owned by vicious bootlegger Horace Croker and his trophy wife, Grace. Folks come to The Grinnin' Gator for the liquor and burlesque girls, but they keep coming back for Big George, the giant alligator Croker keeps in the pond out back. Croker is rumored to have fed ex-wives and enemies to his pet, so when Smitty and Grace embark on a torrid affair…what could possibly go wrong? Inspired by true events, Gator Bait mixes hardboiled crime (James M. Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice) with creature horror (Tobe Hooper's Eaten Alive) to create a riveting tale of suspense. 

BrotherBROTHER by Ania Ahlborn

Deep in the heart of Appalachia stands a crooked farmhouse miles from any road. The Morrows keep to themselves, and it’s served them well so far. When girls go missing off the side of the highway, the cops don’t knock on their door. Which is a good thing, seeing as to what’s buried in the Morrows’ backyard.

But nineteen-year-old Michael Morrow isn’t like the rest of his family. He doesn’t take pleasure in the screams that echo through the trees. Michael pines for normalcy, and he’s sure that someday he’ll see the world beyond West Virginia. When he meets Alice, a pretty girl working at a record shop in the small nearby town of Dahlia, he’s immediately smitten. For a moment, he nearly forgets about the monster he’s become. But his brother, Rebel, is all too eager to remind Michael of his place.


Review: THE WEIGHT OF CHAINS by Lesley Conner

The Weight of Chains
Murderous acts hidden in smoke and mirrors provides a foundation of lies for a brutal truth that shrouds the populace of Machecoul, a small town where boys never grow old. 

Gilles de Rais is an eccentric living in a old castle that casts a very deadly shadow over Machecoul, only the residents don't know it. Seen more as a martyr than murderer, Rais kidnaps the youth and turns them into his playthings until their last breath escapes their tormented corpse, for once he's decided to indulge his lust, the unfortunate are already dead. All the while, the parents of these children are led to believe the disappearance is as result of them being shipped off to gain an education and a chance at a better life. 

If I were to compare the writing I'd liken author Lesley Conner to Laura Benedict (who also writes atmospheric character driven horror stories). The unique place-setting and depth the each character make for an entertaining yet cringe-worthy read as Rais' terrors are realized in the fullest. 

THE WEIGHT OF CHAINS is a classic character driven horror that compliments the gore with clever storytelling and a slow and steady plot which builds tension as the story progresses towards a blood thirsty finish. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Monthly Reader Statistics: SEPTEMBER 2015


Best Reads of September:

A Crucible of Souls (Sorcery Ascendant Sequence #1)  Zer0es (Zer0es, #1)  Hellhole Inferno

A CRUCIBLE OF SOULS by Mitchell Hogan

ZER0ES by Chuck Wendig

HELLHOLE INFERNO by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

- - - - - 

Monthly Reads (books completed reading): 8

Re-reads: 0
Review books: 4
Audio books: 0
*Just 'cos reads: 4
Kindle: 2
2015 published: 6


Year To Date Reads: 97

Re-reads: 11
Review books: 41
Audio books: 3
*Just ‘cos reads: 41
Kindle: 23
2015 published: 37

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Review: STAR WARS AFTERMATH by Chuck Wendig

Aftermath (Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
STAR WARS AFTERMATH manages to blend elements from Rebels, the original trilogy, as well as instilling a new trilogy feel to it - quite a feat to incorporate the full breadth of Star Wars into a single novel. 

The end result? A mix mash of fan favorite feel that readies the reader for the journey to The Force Awakens. 

AFTERMATH centers around a rag tag group characters new to the extended universe cannon. Initially this didn't work for me. I wanted a Stars Wars book that showed me what Luke, Han etc had been up to since Episode VI. However, once I got to know these characters I really started to enjoy the book.

The new characters in Rebel pilot Norra, reconditioned battle droid Mister Bones, Norra's son and all-round tinkerer Temmin, ex-Imperial Loyalty Officer Sinjir, and assassin for hire Jas all get sufficient page time to make the reader form an impression and care for them.

The plot, despite the many and varied elements, is essentially about the Empire's struggle to regain a shade of its former glory in the confusion and disassociation of ranks following the loss of Vader, the Death Star and a number of high ranking officials. Enter Rae Sloane, Admiral in the Empire and chief antagonist who has a special something about her. She's brought together the last few serious contenders to the Empire's throne to form a united front in the battle to reclaim the Empire's stranglehold on the universe. On a little known plant this gathering should go un-noticed - yet it's not. 


The interludes teased a broader story across the universe focusing on some well known and not so well known characters/place-settings, however these bite size chunks of story were side sub plots rather than essential companion pieces to the AFTERMATH plot (in terms of the characters this novel showcases). Despite this, there was synergy with the epic star wars story in that everything centers around the aftermath (as per the aptly named title of the book) of the Death Star's destruction. Author Chuck Wendig showcases political, military, and social elements to the aftermath via these snippets while also teasing some brief cameos of well known characters (notably Han Solo and Chewie).  

Some well known ancillary characters from the movies have prominent roles in AFTERMATH, notability Wedge Antillies - the rebel pilot on a solo mission who stumbles across a secret meeting of Empire elites (or what constitutes 'elites' in the wake of the Death Star's destruction) on outer rim planet Akiva. And Admiral Ackbar who is head of military operations for the Rebel Alliance. Both pictured below:





Side note (Cannon EU): I'm also reading THE SHATTERED EMPIRE (a mini series of 4 comics set in the same period as AFTERMATH) and had hoped to see these two reads linked but, timeline aside, they are distinct reads from one another (as of #1). 

Rae Sloane features in A NEW DAWN (the prequel novel to the Star Wars Rebels TV series), given she was one of my favorite characters in AFTERMATH, I'll be bumping A NEW DAWN up the tbr list. 

Final thought: Whilst not what I was expecting and certainly not as enjoyable as the Thrawn Trilogy, AFTERMATH is a solid entry into the new Star Wars cannon. 

Trade Paperback Tuesday: BLACK SCIENCE VOL.1

Trade paperback Tuesday is an initiative of Previews World, a comics and associated paraphernalia magazine/catalog/online news resource which promotes the hottest trade paperbacks newly collected and published in the comic book industry. I'm borrowing the theme to focus on regular reviews of my favorite trades and/or comic story arcs.  

Black Science, Vol. 1: How to Fall ForeverTitle: HOW TO FALL FOREVER
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Matteo Scalera
Published: 2014
Contains: Black Science #1-6

About
Anarchist scientist Grant McKay has done the impossible! Using the Pillar, he has punched a hole through the barriers between dimensions, allowing travel to all possible universes. But now Grant and his team are trapped in the folds of infinity, the Pillar sending them careening through a million universes of unimaginable adventure, sanity-flaying danger and no way home...

My thoughts
The thing that immediately stands out is the art. Matteo Scalera does a great job at instilling a real sense of the other worldly (or other dimensional as is the case) which is complimented by exceptional colors and tones throughout the 6 issues that comprise the story arc. 

From #1 Remender thrusts the reader into a strange and violent world that immediately sets the tone for the book. These dimensionaughts travel in murderous circles. Grant McKay's use of black science and the bending of reality are not without ramification, which the core characters of BLACK SCIENCE learn all too quickly. Writer Rick Remender doesn't hesitate in borrowing from the GAME OF THRONES precedent of unpredictability - no character is assured of making it through to the next chapter.  

I like stories that change my perception, and this does just that. Initially, McKay and co are seen to be experienced inter dimensional explorers well versed in the dangers of undertaking such travel (such as squaring off against humanoid frog people), however, as the story progresses this isn't the case as by #4 Remender drops the bomb that this foray into the unknown is the first with the cast of characters somewhat ill-prepared. 

There is mystery, intrigue, excitement, twists, turns, and a few pulp-ish elements infused in a very fast paced and entertaining plot, that, whilst doesn't cater to a complete ending, does build anticipation for the next volume. 

Friday, October 2, 2015

Review: TRAM 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila

Tram 83From the back of the book
n an African city in recession, which could be Kinshasa or Lubumbashi, land tourists of all languages and nationalities. They have only one desire: to make a fortune by exploiting the mineral wealth's of the country. They work during the day in mining concession and, as soon as night falls, they go out to get drunk, dance, eat and abandon themselves in Tram 83, the only night-club of the city, the den of all the outlaws: ex children-soldiers, prostitutes, blank students, unmarried mothers, sorcerers' apprentices …

Lucien, a professional writer, fleeing the exaction's and the censorship, finds refuge in the city thanks to Requiem, a youth friend. Requiem lives mainly on theft and on swindle while Lucien only thinks of writing and living honestly. Around them gravitate gangsters and young girls, retired or runaway men, profit-seeking tourists and federal agents of a non-existent State.


My Review
Tram 83 is a proverbial delicatessen of debauchery where mankind is mere meat readily and willingly consumable. 

James Ellroy would appreciate this writing style. The complex prose presents the reader with a puzzle pieced plot that gradually comes together, weaving its tale of self destruction through a foggy drug induced haze highlighting all the particulars necessary to depict poverty, sexuality, criminality, and the tedious boredom  that comes with a fallen high. Tram 83, the destination of the destitute is the biggest character in this unique novel and acts as the glue that binds its noxious narrative with author Fiston Mwanza Mujila not holding back on the evocative nature of the place-setting, its happenings, and its regular customers.  

Lucien, Requiem and an accompaniment of characters provide for a broader story that's difficult to fully realize due to the same-same nature of their dialogue yet, as Tram 83 (the place), is at it's core, a story in and above itself, I get the interchangeable nature of characters. That said, I would've liked more independence and distinguishable dialogue from one to another. 

TRAM 83 is a book to be savored, read slowly, and with an appreciation for the language.

Friday Finds (2 October 2015)


Friday Finds is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading where you share the book titles you discovered or heard about during the past week. These can be books you were told about, books you discovered while browsing blogs/bookstores (physical or online), or books that you actually purchased. I think this is a great idea and a way to share my enthusiasm of discovering new books.

Here's the eclectic mix I've discovered/acquired this past week:


The Children's HomeTHE CHILDREN'S HOME by Charles Lambert (due to be published in Jan 2016 by Scribner)

In a sprawling estate, willfully secluded, lives Morgan Fletcher, the disfigured heir to a fortune of mysterious origins. Morgan spends his days in quiet study, avoiding his reflection in mirrors and the lake at the end of his garden. One day, two children, Moira and David, appear. Morgan takes them in, giving them free reign of the mansion he shares with his housekeeper Engel. Then more children begin to show up.

Dr. Crane, the town physician and Morgan's lone tether to the outside world, is as taken with the children as Morgan, and begins to spend more time in Morgan's library. But the children behave strangely. They show a prescient understanding of Morgan's past, and their bizarre discoveries in the mansion attics grow increasingly disturbing. Every day the children seem to disappear into the hidden rooms of the estate, and perhaps, into the hidden corners of Morgan's mind.


FOUR DAYS by Iain Ryan (due to be published late October by Broken River Books)

Brisbane, 1984: Jim Harris is a hard-drinking Australian detective on his way to a nervous breakdown. Every day, he works in an uneasy alliance with corrupt police and dangerous crooks. That is, until a brutal murder case unravels his career, bringing past indiscretions to light. Alone, afraid and out-of-control, Harris makes a pact: four days to locate the killer, four days to take revenge and four days to find redemption.

ZERO WORLD by Jason M. Hough (published in August 2015 by Titan Books)

Zero WorldTechnologically enhanced superspy Peter Caswell has been dispatched on a top-secret assignment unlike anything he’s ever faced. A spaceship that vanished years ago has been found, along with the bodies of its murdered crew—save one. Peter’s mission is to find the missing crew member, who fled through what appears to be a tear in the very fabric of space. Beyond this mysterious doorway lies an even more confounding reality: a world that appears to be Earth’s twin.
 
Peter quickly discovers that this mirrored world is indeed very different from his home, and far more dangerous. Cut off from all support, and with only days to complete his operation, Peter must track his quarry alone on an alien world. But nothing can prepare him for what awaits on the planet’s surface, where his skills will be put to the ultimate test—and everything he knows about the universe will be challenged in ways he never could have imagined.