Tyson Adams

Putting the 'ill' back in thriller

Archive for the tag “Michael Connelly”

Tyson Adams’ 2012 Book Awards: The Awesomes

Last year I instituted my best reads of the year, The Awesomes. I’ve read a few books this year (+90) and have decided that I needed to talk about my favourites of 2012 and award this year’s Awesome™.

As you will have noticed, my reviews of books are more about my impressions of the book and talking about how much I liked the book, rather than a recap of the plot, etc. My reasoning behind this is simple, I want to say “read this book” to people rather than fall into my bad habit of spoiling the ending, or being a bitch about books I didn’t enjoy. My list is based upon what I have read this year, so obviously some great books have missed out due to lack of reading hours in the year. Also my read list does include some books that were published prior to 2012. There were some categories that were sadly under-represented and some that had some very intense competition.Also, the fact that I finished a book shows that it was worth reading. I have my reading rules that stop me wasting valuable reading time on books I’m not enjoying. This means that any books on my read list are entertaining (well, unless I was particularly disgusted with the crappiness of the book in question).

Awesome of 2012

Nathaniel Cade series – Christopher Farnsworth

Night Angel Trilogy – Brent Weeks

Blasphemy – Douglas Preston

Temple of the Gods – Andy McDermott

Temple – Matthew Reilly

McGrave – Lee Goldberg

And the winner? Blasphemy by Douglas Preston.

Awesome Literary Fiction

There were no nominees in this category this year. Better luck next year.

Awesome Mystery & Thriller

Temple – Matthew Reilly

King City and McGrave- Lee Goldberg

First Drop – Zoe Sharp

Blasphemy – Douglas Preston

Temple of the Gods – Andy McDermott

Relic – Preston and Child

Nathaniel Cade series – Christopher Farnsworth

Tough category, but always hard to go past Matthew Reilly.

Awesome Crime

Assassin – Tara Moss

Vodka Doesn’t Freeze – Leah Giarrantano

Black Echo – Michael Connelly

Sunset Express – Robert Crais

Thirteen Hours – Deon Meyer

Another tough category this year. I’m going to have to give this one to Leah, with Tara, Michael and Robert close seconds.

Awesome Fantasy

Night Angel Trilogy – Brent Weeks

Awesome Paranormal Fantasy

Nathaniel Case series – Christopher Farnsworth

Awesome Science Fiction

There were no nominees in this category this year. Better luck next year.

Awesome Horror

Nathaniel Cade series – Christopher Farnsworth

The Kult – Shaun Jeffery

And the winner? Nathaniel Cade kicked arse!

Awesome Romance

There were no nominees in this category this year. Better luck next year.

Awesome Humor

Right What You No – Tyson Adams’ blog

I’m allowed to be self-congratulatory. Plus I didn’t read any funny books this year.

Awesome Nonfiction

This is an oxymoron, so it is invalidated as a category.

Awesome Graphic Novels & Comics

I didn’t read any 5 star graphic novels this year, but two series came to an end that were worth a mention: The Boys by Garth Ennis and Irredeemable/Incorruptible by Mark Waid. Both series were very strong and explored interesting aspects of the superhero genre.

Awesome Indie

King City – Lee Goldberg

Awesome Poetry

I still try to avoid poetry as much as possible, mainly because of ee cummings.

Book review: Monkey’s Raincoat by Robert Crais

The Monkey's Raincoat (Elvis Cole, #1)The Monkey’s Raincoat by Robert Crais
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am the reason that author’s of series have to write novels so that they can stand alone. That’s right, I don’t read series in order all that often. I started with Lee Child’s 61 Hours, Michael Connelly’s City of Bones, JK Rowling’s’ Goblet of Fire, Jo Nesbo’s Nemesis and Matthew Reilly’s Scarecrow. Long time fans don’t appreciate readers like me.

The first Elvis Cole novel I read was Sunset Express, which I enjoyed immensely. I decided to read the series the right way, so I went out and bought the first three Elvis Cole novels. Robert Crais kicked off this series with Monkey’s Raincoat, which was a shorter crime thriller.

Wit, humour, action, a weeping widow and drug dealers: mix and stir. Crais is definitely an author I’m trying to emulate and enjoy his writing and characters. I’m looking forward to the next two instalments.

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Book Review: The Broken Shore by Peter Temple

The Broken ShoreThe Broken Shore by Peter Temple
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was having a chat with a friend at a party when Peter Temple came up as a must read author recommendation. I’m rather naive when it comes to new and established authors, I don’t seem to have the inside scoop on Aussie writers the way I do with overseas talent. It wasn’t long afterwards that Peter Temple was mentioned again at the Perth Writers’ Festival. So I bought two of his books, Truth (ebook version) and The Broken Shore.

Now the recommendations for Peter Temple came from literary people, people whose recommendations I try to avoid like trips to Canberra and prison showers. But these recommendations carried weight, as one of them was a Lee Child and Michael Connelly fan. I can see why Peter is an award winning novelist, but I can also see why he is highly regarded amongst authors – like I said, naive. This is a crime novel, but not quite like most crime novels. I’d put Peter in the same category as James Lee Burke, Ian Rankin and Michael Connelly, except his work is more literary.

Also, it is sad that Peter isn’t as internationally recognised as those authors I have likened him to. This book was equal to any of those authors. So read Peter and make sure his work hits the international market, where it belongs.

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Book Review: The Black Echo by Michael Connelly

The Black EchoThe Black Echo by Michael Connelly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It took a while to work through my to-read list and make it to my signed copy of The Black Echo. I met Michael at the Sydney Writers’ Festival, had the customary quick chat and walked away with a couple of his books signed – made it worthwhile bringing that book from home. This gives you an idea that I have roughly a 8-9 month to-be-read list that isn’t really becoming any shorter.

For those crime genre fans who haven’t heard of Michael Connelly or his Harry Bosch series, I’d suggest that the rock you are living under is a little cramped and this book should encourage you out into the fresh air. When Michael writes a crime novel it is an intensely good read from a master in the genre. Don’t believe me? They asked him to come on the TV show Castle because of his writing cred. If I have one criticism of the Bosch series it is that not every book is as compelling as this one. I was not a fan of City of Bones, despite it being an adequate crime novel.

Of course, I can’t post a Michael Connelly review without my favourite moment from his appearance on TV. Enjoy.

View all my reviews

Tyson Adams’ 2011 Book Awards: The Awesomes

I’ve read a few books this year (+140) and have decided that I needed to talk about my favourites of 2011.  I also thought it fair to award my favourite reads of the year an Awesome.

As you will have noticed, my reviews of books are more about my impressions of the book and talking about how much I liked the book, rather than a recap of the plot, etc. My reasoning behind this is simple, I want to say “read this book” to people rather than fall into my bad habit of spoiling the ending.

My list is based upon what I have read this year, so obviously some great books (Snuff) have missed out due to lack of reading hours in the year. Also my read list does include some books that were published prior to 2011. There were some categories that were sadly under-represented and some that had some very intense competition.

Also, the fact that I finished a book shows that it was worth reading. I have my reading rules that stop me wasting valuable reading time on books I’m not enjoying. This means that any books on my read list are entertaining (well, unless I was particularly disgusted with the crappiness of the book in question).

Awesome of 2011

10 hours of non-stop reading fun, 12 if you count meal and toilet breaks. I could not put this book down, it had me enthralled with Reilly’s fast paced thrills and explosions. This books defines The Awesomes.
Also, I would like to extend my condolences to Matthew and his friends and family on the loss of his wife Natalie.

Awesome Literary Fiction
There were no nominees in this category this year. Better luck next year.
Awesome Mystery & Thriller
This is one of two heavily over-represented categories in this year’s Awesomes. 
Awesome Crime

Blood Work – Michael Connelly
13 Hours – Deon Meyer (technically I started it in 2011, but only finished it this year)



Awesome Fantasy
There were no nominees in this category this year. Better luck next year.
Awesome Paranormal Fantasy
There were no nominees in this category this year. Better luck next year.
Awesome Science Fiction

Peace Army – Steven L Hawk



Awesome Horror

Dead Man Series – Lee Goldberg, Will Rabkin, et al.



Awesome Romance
There were no nominees in this category this year. Better luck next year.
Awesome Humor
Right What You No – Tyson Adams’ blog
I’m allowed to be self-congratulatory. Plus I didn’t read any funny books this year.
Awesome Nonfiction
This is an oxymoron, so it is invalidated as a category. Having said that I did read several nonfiction books this year, mostly on climate change. I should make mention of On Writing by Steven King, which really had me agreeing with Steven’s insights.
Awesome Graphic Novels & Comics

The Boys – Garth Ennis

This is the second over-represented category on my list. 


Awesome Indie

Awesome Poetry
Rime of the Ancient Mariner – Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Book Review: Thirteen Hours – Deon Meyer

Thirteen HoursThirteen Hours by Deon Meyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This would be the first book I’ve read by a South African author. Well, aside from Bryce Courtenay. And of course Wilbur Smith. Can’t forget that Tolkien was born in South Africa. Anyway, aside from those authors Deon Meyer is one of the first South African authors I have read. I did read Rhodes’ biography as well…

Before I become too Monty Python (Ni!) I should say that Deon has served up a particularly good crime thriller. He wastes no time or space in this book, his writing mimics the tension of the characters and the confusion of the investigation running against the clock. But he also digs into the South African music industry and some political issues whilst setting up some interesting secondary characters, who will no doubt shine in later novels.

I picked up this novel because it was sitting next to a Matt Hilton Joe Hunter novel. The cover and blurb looked interesting and I took the cover recommendation – by Michael Connelly – at its word. So it was via random browsing that I came across this fantastic novel. For crime fans, Deon Meyer is definitely worth checking out.

View all my reviews

My Experiences at the Sydney Writers’ Festival 2011

Yesterday I posted a few observations that I made over a beer between sessions. Today I’m going to go through the highlights and lowlights of the festival. It really was a good event so I feel the need to mention some of the writers and sessions and what I got out of them. Besides, I didn’t take my note pad and netbook in a backpack to every session just for my health – although it could be argued I carried the backpack around to seem more important and to knock drinks out of peoples’ hands in the bookstore.

Some of my signed books from the festival.
Thursday 18th

This is Thriller
The first session I attended was a discussion between LA Larkin and John M. Green about how to make a thrill filled thrilling thriller. Surprisingly this was more a discussion about plot and character rather than explosions and body counts. LA Larkin also seems to go the extra mile for research, having just arrived back from a journey to the end of the earth – 6 months in Antarctica – for her latest book. Worth a look.

Climate Whiplash
Curt Stager is a paleoclimatologist, reformed climate sceptic, and a very interesting and engaging speaker. He described what the two scenarios for our next 100,000 years on planet Earth will be like. It was fascinating to hear how much we have disturbed our natural climate cycles and how big and long ranging our impacts upon the atmosphere are. Seeing the response curve of greenhouse gases, temperature and rectification having impacts out to half a million years really opens the eyes to the staggering the affect we are having upon climate. On the plus side, we’ve eliminated the next ice age due in 50,000 years (Sarcasm warning: it isn’t such a good thing).

Bits and Bytes
This talk should have absolutely fascinated me. It was all about technology, where we have come from and where we are going, and how our view of life/sentience has changed from memory to creativity. Ultimately, though, I found James Gleick boring. The only interesting part for me was the discussion of Ada Lovelace, a mind centuries before its time. Who’d have thought a talk about computers could put you to sleep?

Cracking the Code: The Art of Editing
This session on editing was proof that budding writers – like myself – are hungry for information and are willing to queue for a half hour to attend. Bill Scott-Kerr (he edited the DaVinci Code) and Tom Mayer (thankfully not related to John Mayer, or any other pop musicians) were there to lay out the importance and role of an editor. I liked the summary:

Author = speaks to the audience
Editor = helps to sell the book (to sales directors, industry, etc)

It was great to have two professionals stand up and say that editing wasn’t just about typos and grammar, but about crafting a story. This is a point that I think a lot of people miss. Although as a newsletter editor myself, I really would appreciate if authors actually ran a spell check and read their work before submitting it, as it helps to remove the purple monkey dishwasher.

An aside to this section: apparently professional editors have the same reading cut-off points that I do for reading. Bill stated that his cut-offs for a bad manuscript/novel are page 10 (foreboding) and page 100 (dread).

Criminal Agency
Sydney has an interesting public transport system. Replace the word interesting with rubbish. On the surface it looks decent: plenty of buses and trains departing regularly; plenty of stops; bus lanes; etc. Of course once I was on a bus travelling to this session at Ashfield Library, I realised that it would have been easier to harness up some Husky’s to a sled and find some icy tundra in our Aussie deserts. A 15 minute trip was turned into an hour of watching bored people texting and listening to their iPods. On the plus side, once I arrived Shamini Flint and Garry Disher were into their discussions about crime fiction. Garry served up sex and violence, Shamini pointed out that her mother edits out her books’ sex and violence and we would have to make do with humour.

Friday 19th

Book Design Uncovered
It is really hard to sum up a session that revolved around looking at various covers the designers and artists had produced. So here is the session described in interpretive dance:

But What I Really Want to do is Write Fiction
For some reason most people think they have a novel in them. Personally I blame shoddy surgery practices. It was interesting to hear from former journalists, academics and advertising executives (guess which one was able to plug their book the most) on how they had this career thing interrupt their dream of writing a novel or two. The take home point for me was that spending all day writing for your job helps when you want to take fiction writing seriously. Something about being used to hours of rewriting, editing, and tetris.

Merchants of Doubt
Naomi Oreskes is reasonably well known amongst the scientific and wider community, especially since her book, Merchants of Doubt, hit the promotional circuit. I’m a big fan of her work as she shines a light on the dirty little secret that is media misinformation (Hint: climate change is happening and is our fault; smoking does increase the risk of cancer; a duck’s quack does echo). As a scientist I am always amazed at the nonsense that is thrown around in the media. While this book discussed climate change, it was just the latest example in a long line of doubt-mongering by interest groups that she discusses. Her interview in this session covered a lot of points, so I just advise reading her book.

Daddy, Daddy, I………
Finally a session about being a stay at home writer and Dad.

You’ve Been Warned
Curt Stager and Naomi Oreskes were back for another session on climate change, this time joined by Paul Gilding. I really enjoyed this discussion panel, which primarily revolved around the “where to from here” in regards to climate change and dealing with it. Curt pointed out that this next decade is probably the most important decade in the next 100,000 years. Right now we can decide the future of the Earth’s climate by either listening to science and doing something or sitting in the corner with fingers in our ears yelling “la-la-la-la”. Naomi pointed out that scientists have been their own worst enemy, they publish journal papers that only scientists read, so the rest of the world can make stuff up with impunity. Paul pointed out that the free market is terrible at doing anything until the last possible second, and climate change is an issue that requires action much sooner due to its complexity and impact. As Naomi quoted:

Scientist in 1970s “Climate change is a real problem we need to deal with.”
Politician “When will it start having an impact?”
Scientist “Oh, in about 40 years.”
Politician “Get back to me in 39 years.”

Saturday 21st

Sex Up Your Writing
Linda Jaivin‘s workshop was a completely different kind of session at the festival. I would really have liked to have had her on the Porn Wars panel later in the day. Linda had a very simple message, write so that you get hot and steamy. If it works for you then it will work for someone else. That’s a good sex scene or erotica. Due to the topics discussed we were sworn to secrecy so I’ll let you imagine what the 14 women and two men did in the session.

Porn Wars
It was odd to leave a workshop on writing erotica to enter a panel discussion on porn in society. Catherine Lumby, a social scientist, Kate Holden, a former sex worker turned author, and Gail Dines, a fan of talking over the top of everyone including the moderator, were the experts called upon to discuss what should have been a fascinating topic. Unfortunately Gail decided to throw out unsubstantiated claims as facts, reject any other opinions and evidence, and provide scant evidence of her own. I especially liked her claim that the best selling porn movies were all misogynistic gonzo DVDs. Odd. I could have sworn that the big budget porn movies were couples erotica and that they dominated the market. This session was a waste of time. I have to say that as a male I love being blamed for all societal faults by sexists. Catherine and Kate needed a session without Gail, and, as one audience member pointed out, a male panellist.

Cities of the Dead
This was the session that I had come for. Crime fiction authors discussing their work and how the location of their novels influences them. Shamini Flint was the ‘contributing’ chair for the panel of Michael Connelly, Garry Disher and Michael Duffy. Shamini proved to be a great chair – maybe she could have chaired the Porn Wars session….. – and had everyone interested, discussing and laughing. Connelly could be described as taciturn, but Shamini had him telling jokes before long. I think all four authors sold a lot of books from this session, especially Shamini. At the book signing after she had a lot of people queued with her first Inspector Singh novel under their arms. Also Connelly revealed to me that he didn’t write the dialogue he utters on Castle, yet he loved doing the show and the stuff they give him to say.

The Chaser
I was in the queue for the queue to see The Chaser. Needless to say, I didn’t get in. Pity. They are always funny, despite what the BBC, Channel 7, Channel 9, and the Queen of England think.

Sunday 22nd

Growing Pains
When I was an undergraduate I picked a lot of economics units to pad out my science degree – yes I am a nerd, no I will not let you kick sand in my face. I remember very clearly the day that my economics professor explained the market model to us and my resulting question:

Me “If we have a finite resource base, how can we have infinite growth?”
Professor “Technology will be invented to change the resource base.”

Since then I have had this cartoon on my office wall:

Ross Gittins and Paul Gilding were the first economics commentators to say what I have been saying for, literally, decades: the current economic model is fatally flawed. Yes technology could save us, but how long are you willing to wait for it to save you?

As an aside: don’t you think it fitting/ironic that the stock exchange was founded by a chronic gambler?

Lawyers, Guns and Money
I finished my Sydney Writers’ Festival as I began it, with genre. Michael Connelly was back to discuss his books, his writing, his film adaptations and how much his daughter influences Harry Bosch’s daughter. This was a really interesting session and very well attended. I think this session underlined Connelly as one of the modern masters of crime fiction.

I’d also like to say “Hi” to all of the lovely people who I had a chat with in the queues for various sessions. We had some great discussions and were definitely a big part of what made this festival great.

Observations from the Sydney Writers’ Festival 2011

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I’m safely home again after my trip to this year’s Sydney Writers’ Festival. I really enjoyed the event and the people I spoke to also enjoyed it. While I was at the event I had an hour between sessions to have a beer and do a bit of writing. I made a few notes on the event that I thought I would share:
  • Writers’ festivals are predominately attended by middle aged women who dream of being an author.
  • Everyone fancies themselves as an intellectual (me included).
  • Actors have to dress eccentrically.
  • Publishers are continually being pitched books, especially by writers who haven’t actually finished a first draft. Publishers refer to random pitches from strangers as “another one”.
  • Writers are always being asked the same 3 questions.
  • Some writers love the crowds, others would clearly prefer to be at home writing. It sucks being a famous/successful introvert.
  • Sessions about writing are very popular, especially amongst those still working on their first book.
  • Sydney has an obsession with coffee culture.
  • Due to the coffee culture they have no idea what a cup of tea is meant to taste like.
  • The smallest population at the event is the male under 40 crowd. I’m sure I was meant to have a minority discount token as a result.
  • Apparently you have to be a feminist to be a female author, even if you write romantic fiction about finding the right man to take care of you.
  • Judging by the Sydney Dance Company’s posters I need to see more productions: all the female dancers are hot and naked.
  • Handing out promotional bottle openers at a writers’ festival is a poorly thought out strategy. It should have been a coffee mug, book mark, or cork screw.
  • Handing out promotional pens is a great idea, the lovely people at Pilot pens gave me a Frixion Clicker that isn’t even on the market yet.
  • Politics at the writers’ festival tends to be a more neutral topic than you would think. The older population and the education level tend to lean towards rational rather than partisan divisions.
  • Most people in the publishing industry are passionate about books, just like the readers. The least passionate people seem to be the ones who make the marketing and buying decisions.
  • People who like dead trees are a largely unaware of what is happening in e-books and the progressions they have made.
  • Readers at the festival were spotted reading on their phones, tablets, e-readers and of course DTB. DTB are still the most popular, but even e-readers are taking off among the older readers.
  • The sales of Michael Connelly’s latest book are apparently 45% e-books.
  • Julian Morrow (The Chaser) and his wife Lisa are really nice.
  • The Chaser, despite the best efforts of Channel 7, 9, BBC and the Queen, are still hugely popular.
  • Shamini Flint probably sold more books and garnered more fans from chairing a crime writers’ session than her advertising for the past year. Witty + Funny + Getting Michael Connelly telling jokes = Sales!
  • Gail Dines probably alienated more people with her polemic vitriol than she intended. Then again she is blind to facts and probably doesn’t care.
  • The people of Sydney were very friendly. They were just like Western Australian’s, except for their constant IV drip of coffee and lack of familiarity with sunny days.

More on the Sydney Writers’ Festival tomorrow; my dog – fur-kid, who am I kidding – needs more attention.

Sydney Writers’ Festival

I’m not sure what I like most about the announcement for the lineup of this year’s Sydney Writers’ Festival. Maybe it is that they have The Chaser team performing a few shows. Or maybe it is that unlike the Perth Writers’ Festival, the Sydney Writers’ Festival is written correctly.

Now as usual the festival has accumulated local and visiting authors and a bunch of reporters to create the week long line-up. In between the “OMG Wikileaks”, Climate Change and politics presentations, they actually have the genre represented by the Crime genre. At the head of the festival’s Crime genre is Michael Connelly. For a list of highlights click here.

Michael Connelly in mandatory cool writer’s pose

Now I am of course thinking about going and have a list of events lined up already, and the organisers have pulled out all stops in order to appeal to my inner literary snob. Fortunately my MD prescribes a particularly powerful drug to suppress my inner snob, so I’ll mainly be attending for the writing workshops and the Crime writing events.

For all of you who are overseas I should give a little background to the Sydney Writers’ Festival, and Australian Writers’ Festivals in general. The Sydney Writers’ Festival is one of the biggest writers’ events in the world, definitely the biggest in Australia. Australia has a relatively high proportion of readers in the population and the Aussie government prides itself on secularizing the industry despite evidence to suggest we’d be better off with out their protectionist agenda. So as a result this festival will attract readers, writers, reporters, and cling-ons to discuss books by the thousands. Some of the books they will be discussing will have actually sold a few copies.

I’m looking forward to it. If you are going email me, maybe we’ll be able to have a tête-à-tête over a coffee. That’s what literary people do isn’t it? Told you these drugs were strong.

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