Thursday, March 22, 2012

CBR4 #17: The Tomb by F. Paul Wilson

Repairman Jack is a fixer. He isn't likely to fix a leaky sink or malfunctioning dryer, but he WILL help get rid of a stalker, deal with vandals who won't leave you alone, or track down property you might not want the cops to know is missing.

In this tale, Jack finds himself tracking down a special necklace for a Bengali diplomat. He also is called upon (grudgingly) by his ex-girlfriend to help locate an elderly friend who has gone missing. Unsurprisingly, the two events are related. What might be surprising is how things end up shaking out.

I liked the character of Repairman Jack very much. He's interesting, with a distinctive voice and clear motivations. His girlfriend Gia was not as likable, but at least her motivation to make the choices she did was also clear. The side characters were also well done, including Jack's pawn-broker friend and Gia's adorable daughter Vicky.

Frankly, I did see one of the twists coming from fairly early on, but it didn't effect how much I enjoyed the story. The characters managed to hold my interest even when the plot got a little obvious. It is a little formulaic, but in an enjoyable sort of way. I will definitely be looking into this series, as it seems to be some light, fun reading.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

CBR4 #16: Midnight Mass by F. Paul Wilson

A nun, a rabbi, a lesbian, and a disgraced priest survive the vampire apocalypse...

It sounds like the beginning of a joke, but it's actually the plot of this pretty good little page-turner by F. Paul Wilson.

Whereas most books about vampires taking over the world begin early in the process, this one starts after it's all over but the shouting. The vampires took over Europe, then swept into the US, destroying the power structure and rounding up the people to use as cattle. Some humans have remained free, but they live in fear. During the night, they hide from the vampires, and during the day they hide from the "cowboys" -- humans who work for the vampires. Most people scrape out survival as best they can, with little hope that things will ever change. However, a small group led by Father Joe--a priest who was thrown out of his parish in disgrace--discovers the will to fight back.

This is exactly the kind of book I like. A group of people who seem to have very little in common band together and fight for the common good. The baddies are ruthless, the good are flawed, and there are a few surprises along the way. I'll definitely be investigating the sequel to this one.

Monday, March 5, 2012

CBR4 #15: Ghost Road Blues by Jonathan Maberry

Thirty years ago, something evil came to the small town of Pine Deep. The evil was stymied, but not destroyed. Now, most residents of "the Most Haunted Town in America" have forgotten what happened. Some of them still remember, though. And some of them are still very, very angry.

This was a pretty good book. I liked the protagonists--ex-cop Malcolm Crow, his girlfriend Val, and young "Iron Mike" Sweeney--a lot. They were were relateable characters, with emotions and reactions I found believable. Crow in particular was very cool. Val was a strong female character, mostly independent and smart. Even the antagonistic characters--dangerous convict Karl, Mike's abusive stepfather Vic, and (most disturbing) religious fanatic Tow-Truck Eddie--had their own motivations and points of view.

The main problem I had with this book is that it feels incomplete. I realize that it's the first book in a trilogy, but it felt like there was a lot of set up and very little pay-off. Many things are hinted at, both from the future and the past, but almost nothing actually came to fruition. I found myself wanting at least a few answers. While I understand the author wanted to leave the audience hungry for more from the second book, I felt like he should have thrown me a bone at some point--explain a little more about what happened thirty years ago, or about the plan, or about the characters, or SOMETHING. Nothing seemed to resolve and I felt I'd been left hanging.

I plan to get the other books in this trilogy eventually because I am interested in finding out what happens to the characters. However, at this point I'm still feeling a bit annoyed with the author.