Tyson Adams

Putting the 'ill' back in thriller

Archive for the tag “Thriller”

Book Review: Personal by Lee Child

Personal (Jack Reacher, #19)Personal by Lee Child
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jack Reacher fought a little person in 61 Hours, so definitely time he fought a giant in Personal. Oh, and some other stuff happens… like beating up a giant!

Lee Child’s continued adventures of Sherlock Homeless – Jack Reacher – have reached (boom tish) their nineteenth installment. Reacher is manipulated into searching for a former army sniper he had put away 16 years ago, a sniper who has taken a shot at the French President and is threatening to shoot some other world leaders at the G8 summit. This is the first Reacher novel that isn’t set in the US, seeing him travel to Paris and London, for his manhunt. Of course, it is never as simple as a manhunt, especially when the sniper bears a 16 year old grudge.

What I love about picking up a Lee Child novel is starting the novel and finding I’m already 50 pages into the action before I realise it. Lee effortlessly steers you through the story and keeps you entertained. He makes you appreciate just how good an author he is compared to his contemporaries. It was also refreshing to have Reacher leave behind his small town problem solving in favour of an international, high stakes, manhunt. Not that this stops Reacher beating up people and solving problems: wouldn’t be a Reacher novel without that.

Hard to find fault with the latest Reacher adventure. The only criticism would be that it feels like a “standard” Reacher adventure, despite the break in location tradition. My own observation is that since 61 Hours Lee’s writing has become taut and that he skilfully plays with the reader, making him my favourite author.

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Book Review: The Fifth Profession by David Morrell

The Fifth ProfessionThe Fifth Profession by David Morrell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

How do you tell if a book has samurai in it? Don’t worry, they’ll put a katana on the cover. A book about ninjas is a little harder, since they are invisible to anyone that hasn’t just been killed by a ninja. How do you tell if a book is a thriller? Don’t worry, they’ll put a gun on the cover.

Professional protectors – the fifth profession…. get it! – Savage and Akira are teamed up to protect a travelling businessman. Things go horribly wrong and Savage is beaten to a pulp after seeing the businessman and Akira killed. Akira is also beaten to a pulp and sees the businessman and Savage killed. And so begins the twist in this David Morrell thriller.

A lot of thrillers take you from point A to point B very efficiently to the point of cliche. Some authors even churn out the same book dozens of times in this manner. The thing that keeps you coming back is the the taut writing, thrills and cool escapism. The strength of The Fifth Profession is that it starts with the standard thriller plot setup and then eschews that for a different plot entirely. It makes the entire story novel. See what I did there?

There are some annoying aspects to Morrell’s novel. David has a habit of hammering certain points and descriptions at the reader, to the point I started assuming everyone had “karate” calloused hands. To some people this could be annoying and enough to throw the book against a wall – which I wouldn’t be doing this since I read this on my iPad. To others the plotting and pacing will keep you entertained, as it did with me.

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Book Review: The Protector by David Morrell

The ProtectorThe Protector by David Morrell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It surprises me just a little that I only just discovered David Morrell’s books. He writes thrillers, he’s been doing so since before I was born, yet I’d never heard of him, let alone realised he was the brains behind the Rambo franchise…. Okay, that latter point is not a huge selling point, unless you like seeing people sawn in half with a machine gun for the final act of a movie (Hint: my answer is yes).

In The Protector we have a protective services operator, Cavanaugh, protecting a client, Prescott, from two groups who want Prescott dead… Guess where the idea for the novel’s title came from. Of course there is more to Prescott than it first appears, the groups after him are highly resourced, and the straight forward protection assignment goes sideways. Car chases, gun fights, black helicopters, several fires and a knife fight for good measure: you know, thriller.

This book moves at a cracking pace and was very entertaining. I’m definitely checking out more of David’s novels.

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Book Review: All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka

All You Need Is KillAll You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I’m not sure that there are enough sci-fi thrillers out there. Maybe we should get James Patterson to churn out a few dozen this year, or maybe someone can point me in the direction of a few dozen authors like Hiroshi Sakurazaka.

People may be aware of All You Need Is Kill because of the film adaptation starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt, retitled Edge of Tomorrow because ‘kill’ had such negative connotations. I haven’t watched the film yet, but have heard very good things, which makes sense, since this is a very good book. The premise for the book (and film) is that Earth has been invaded by terraforming robots – Mimics – who are preparing the planet for an alien race to come live here. These robots have a special trick they use to help them win battles: they can send a signal back in time to allow time loops to play out until they win. Keiji Kiriya is a new recruit, but in his first battle he gets caught in the loop, and he is able to alter the future by learning from his mistakes.

Obviously this sounds a lot like the Bill Murray film Groundhog Day, just with less Bill Murray and more giant robots trying to destroy the planet. The story never lets up, despite the fact that the two days (the day before and day of the battle) are on an endless loop until either Keiji or the Mimics succeed. And the twist ending caught me somewhat by surprise. I recommend this book to any fans of thrillers, unless you can’t stand the idea of people in robotic suits fighting alien robots for the future of the planet – which is, of course, impossible not to love.

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Book Review: Secondworld by Jeremy Robinson

SecondWorldSecondWorld by Jeremy Robinson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There’s nothing quite like a fast paced thriller to keep the blood pumping. Well, except perhaps a double shot of espresso washing down a hit of speed after an eightball. I think reading might be easier on the heart, though.

Jeremy Robinson’s SecondWorld has probably one of the more suspenseful openings I’ve read in a while. His hero, Lincoln Miller, is stuck underwater with no air left, only to surface and find no air to breath thanks to some mysterious red flakes soaking up the oxygen. If the lack of air wasn’t bad enough, he’s being hunted by a shark. Like I said, suspenseful.

Of course, no air, poisonous red flakes falling from the sky, sharks, that’s just the beginning of a thriller that sees skin-heads and a Nazi plot started back at the end of the Second World War, trying to purify the world. Welcome to SecondWorld.

Jeremy handles the plotting and pacing well, reminding me a lot of James Rollins. This book is a lot of fun and is very entertaining. My problem with the novel comes from some of the details that jarred me straight out of the story. To most readers this wouldn’t be a problem, but for me it was. An example was a .38 Super revolver being referred to as a hand-cannon, something that is a stretch for a yoga master. These errors and the inclusion of an overly obvious ending – not to spoil it, but add cryogenics and Nazis together and what cliche do you get? – and I had to downgrade my score on what was an otherwise entertaining read.

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Book review: Freezing Point by Karen Dionne

Freezing PointFreezing Point by Karen Dionne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For anyone not familiar with the Killer Thrillers group, Karen is one of many great authors who are on the list with Zoe Sharp, Sean Black and Boyd Morrison (to name just 3 off of the top of my head). They have a tag-line: Great reads – guaranteed. I think it holds true.

Anyway, Freezing Point is an eco-thriller that moves along at a cracking pace. Plenty of conspiracies, corporate greed, wacky environmentalists, scientists in the frozen wilds, idealists caught in a mess, and rats that have developed a taste for humans, all competing for the most precious resource: water.

I enjoyed this novel, which I believe is the first in a series of related eco-thrillers by Karen. The only thing I disliked was the abrupt ending. I felt there was more to come, several chapters worth, but it was wrapped up with a few lines in what was essentially an epilogue. Regardless the “great reads” tag-line holds true.

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Book review: The Persona Protocol by Andy McDermott

The Persona ProtocolThe Persona Protocol by Andy McDermott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Something a little bit different from Andy McDermott with Persona Protocol; different in that Nina and Eddie aren’t being shot at in this one. But there is still plenty to enjoy about this techno-spy-thriller, not starring Nina and Eddie, but instead Adam and Bianca take over the being shot at duties.

Andy again delivers his mix of breakneck pacing and humour that are the reason I enjoy his books so much. I think this departure from the Nina and Eddie series of archaeological adventures (is it still archaeology if they destroy most of the stuff they find?) is every bit as good, and I hope to see more of these departures from Andy.

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Book review: The Tournament by Matthew Reilly

The TournamentThe Tournament by Matthew Reilly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Just about everyone has already commented how this novel is a departure for Matthew Reilly. It’s still unmistakably a Matthew Reilly novel, but instead of a thriller, this is a mystery novel.

Whilst this was an enjoyable novel, I can’t rate it as highly as his others. The key to enjoying the change in Reilly’s murder mystery cum chess tournament is to remember this is a mystery and not a thriller. Seriously, some of the reviews I’ve seen sound like they were expecting Scarecrow to time travel back at any moment and start shooting mutant monkeys, and were annoyed when that didn’t happen.

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Book Review: The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

The Strain (The Strain Trilogy, #1)The Strain by Guillermo del Toro
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I bought this novel after watching the fantastic Pan’s Labyrinth. If you haven’t watched that movie, do so now. In fairness though, this novel has more in common with Del Toro’s contribution to the Blade series of movies than it does to Pan’s Labyrinth.

This is another take on the viral outbreak thriller, thankfully it doesn’t take it down the path of zombies, as most recent novels in this genre have done. Non-sparkly vampires are back!

The only disappointment for me was that this was definitely the first instalment in a trilogy and felt a little more unfinished than I’d have liked. The writing is very reminiscent of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s Prendergast series. Worth a read for horror and thriller fans.

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Rules of thriller writing

archer-gun

1) If in doubt kill a character.

2) Plot holes can be filled with dead bodies.

3) Nothing screams thriller more than characters screaming for their lives.

4) Car chases and shootouts are mandatory.

5) The hero can’t die, unless you really, really want them to.

6) The bad-guy must die horribly, unless you want them for the sequel. Even then, the sequel could be a zombie thriller.

7) Beloved minor characters must die the most gruesome and pointless of deaths.

8) Minor bad-guys must follow the inverse ninja law.

9) The only reason a gun should ever run out of bullets is if it puts the hero in even more danger.

10) The rules of physics and biology do not apply to the hero, unless it puts them in even more danger.

11) Deus ex machina can only be used once in the story, so use it wisely.

12) If your story hasn’t given your readers a heart attack, rewrite it so that it does.

See also:

http://davidmorrell.net/on-writing/writing-advice/

http://www.creative-writing-now.com/how-to-write-a-thriller.html

http://www.writerscentre.com.au/sydney/thrillerwriting.htm

Book Reviews: Velocity by Steve Worland

Velocity (Judd Bell & Corey Purchase, #1)Velocity by Steve Worland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Whenever there is a new thriller author on the block, especially if they are Australian, there is always someone drawing a comparison to Matthew Reilly. You can just about guarantee that this comparison will be drawn by someone who hasn’t read Matthew Reilly’s books or hasn’t read the new author’s book/s. Finally there is an author with whom this comparison is valid.

Well worth the read.

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Pulse Pounding Tales is here!

Cover for the second edition.

Cover for the second edition.

As I mentioned recently, my short story, Hard Wood, appears in the new compilation of Pulse Pounding Tales from Matt Hilton. You can get your copy from either:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

CONTENTS
Introduction by Matt Hilton
Dirk Ramm: Unsheathed by Matt Hilton
Sins of Omission by Ian Graham
See Saw by James Oliver Hilton
Uninvited Guests by Rod Glenn
The Missionary by Paul D Brazill
Hard Wood by Tyson Adams
Black Tuesday by Alex Shaw
.50 Contingency Plan by Jochem Vandersteen
Cold Redemption By Les Morris
Kokoro by Andrew Scorah
Get Cutter! By James Hopwood
Jardine Rides Again by Ian McAdam
Jack Be Nimble by Gavin Hunt
Exit Wound by Steve Christie
As Heroes Fall By Frank Sonderborg
Goofy Brings The House Down by Richard Godwin
Grand Central: Terminal by Terrence P. McCauley
The Fixer by Dean Breckenridge
Soup Sandwich by Christopher L. Irvin
Pasnuta Means Arena of Death! by Richard Prosch
Mududa’s Revenge by Graham Smith
97 Ways To Die In Istanbul by Paul Grzegorzek
It’s Noir or Never by Absolutely*Kate
Push by Kevin Michaels
You Only Die Once by Rhesa Sealy
Man About Town by Alan Griffiths
Hanoi Heat by Iain Purdie
Hammertime by Asher Wismer
When The Devil Catches Up by Lee Hughes

Bonus Tale
Suited and Booted by Matt Hilton

Good News Everyone!

A while ago I had my short story, Hard Wood, accepted into the second Pulse Pounding Tales compilation by Matt Hilton. I’ve held off on making this announcement until the submissions were officially closed. For those unfamiliar with volume one of Pulse Pounding Tales, buy it now. You’ll thank me later. Volume 2 is due out later this month.

Cover for the second edition.

Cover for the second edition.

The first edition included short stories from many renowned and upcoming thriller authors, including: Matt Hilton (duh!), Zoë Sharp, Stephen Leather, Adrian Magson and Steven Savile. If the previous edition and my submission (Hey! I’m allowed to think I’m awesome) are anything to go by, this second installment should be just as awesome. For more on whose stories you will get to read, see here.

Hard Wood is about Steve: disabled in the war in outer Desert-stan, he now makes sure containers at a shipping yard aren’t lonely at night. Steve stumbles across some heavily armed smugglers and decides that he is the only one who can stop them escaping before the police can arrive. Pity that Steve is not heavily armed and is missing a leg. For a little background to the underlying topic of the short, read this little non-fiction synopsis about illegal logging.

I’d like to thank Matt for the opportunity to publish my story with him. I’d also like to congratulate my fellow authors who I will be sharing pages in the compilation with.

Update:

Here’s the final line-up to ACTION: Pulse Pounding Tales Vol 2 everyone:

CONTENTS
Introduction by Matt Hilton
Dirk Ramm: Unsheathed by Matt Hilton
Sins of Omission by Ian Graham
See Saw by James Oliver Hilton
Uninvited Guests by Rod Glenn
The Missionary by Paul D Brazill
Hard Wood by Tyson Adams
Black Tuesday by Alex Shaw
.50 Contingency Plan by Jochem Vandersteen
Cold Redemption By Les Morris
Kokoro by Andrew Scorah
Get Cutter! By James Hopwood
Jardine Rides Again by Ian McAdam
Jack Be Nimble by Gavin Hunt
Exit Wound by Steve Christie
As Heroes Fall By Frank Sonderborg
Goofy Brings The House Down by Richard Godwin
Grand Central: Terminal by Terrence P. McCauley
The Fixer by Dean Breckenridge
Soup Sandwich by Christopher L. Irvin
Pasnuta Means Arena of Death! by Richard Prosch
Mududa’s Revenge by Graham Smith
97 Ways To Die In Istanbul by Paul Grzegorzek
It’s Noir or Never by Absolutely*Kate
Push by Kevin Michaels
You Only Die Once by Rhesa Sealy
Man About Town by Alan Griffiths
Hanoi Heat by Iain Purdie
Hammertime by Asher Wismer
When The Devil Catches Up by Lee Hughes

Bonus Tale
Suited and Booted by Matt Hilton

Choosing a location for your story

32359_388405211247188_455351472_n

As much as I love America, does every crime and thriller novel written have to be set there? Wouldn’t it be great if more stories chose some other locations?

Before anyone jumps on me, yes, I know, there are plenty of stories set in diverse locations. My comment is more about the way writers are so often told that people only want to read stories set in the US, that it has to appeal to the US market. I think we all know that this is a presumption on behalf of the industry for us readers. Let’s try and push for the more challenging locations in the stories we read.

Perth Writers’ Festival 2013

Another year has come and gone for my local writers’ festival. Once again I joined my fellow reading nerds and aspiring authors to descend upon the grounds of UWA. This year there were 30,000 of us who felt the need to spend three days of lovely weather discussing books.

This year I spent a lot of the three day in writing workshops and less time at discussion/interview sessions. There is always room for improvement in writing, so what better way than sitting down with an expert and two dozen peers to discuss and practice. I’d like to thank the various experts who all had some interesting insights and tips: Susan Midalia (short stories – literary focus), Belinda Castles (finding your voice and turning that story into reality), LA Larkin (thriller writing, great tips and she is also running a longer course with the Sydney Writers Centre) and Parker Bilal (crime writing, developing the characters and structure).

This isn’t to say that I didn’t get the chance to see any talks. The discussion of Antarctica was fascinating and puts it on the list of places I’d like to visit before climate change has its wicked way with it. The discussion with Major General John Cantwell and former WA premier Geoff Gallop about why it is necessary to help remove the stigma around mental illness was fantastic. John managed to pretend he wasn’t suffering PTSD for 20 years, which is just amazing considering some of the the ramifications it was having on him. Another great session was with David Petrarca, Sue Masters and James Bradley discussing how TV storytelling now rivals cinema and literature. It is quite clear that subscription TV and services like Netflix are changing the game for production of TV, which is why we are seeing great writing, great acting and decent budgets to give us programming I actually want to watch. James Bradley made a very poiniant comment: we have to stop ragging on Master Chef and other boring and mindless TV shows, their popularity allows decent TV to be funded. Finally, on Sunday I was introduced to two new (for me) authors in the panel discussion on thrillers with Andrew Croome, LA Larkin and Steve Worland. I’m looking forward to reading Andrew and Steve’s books, and of course Louisa’s new novel Thirst.

But, now the festival is over for another year. This picture sums up the take home message for me from this year’s Perth Writers’ Festival:

538064_470914782957833_324528495_n

Book Review: Arctic Floor by Mark Aitken

Arctic FloorArctic Floor by Mark Aitken
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There is nothing quite like a marketing executive, especially when they work in publishing. These are the people who come up with the fantastic ideas like: dog on the cover because dogs sell books, no dogs in the book; bright and cheery cover art, book about a serial killer; quotes recommending the book by famous authors, authors that have the same publisher. In this case the marketing department came up with a brilliant idea: Matthew Reilly is an Australian author who sells a lot of books, let’s mention him on the cover, despite the fact that the two authors write in a completely different style.

I grabbed Mark’s book from my local library because I saw he had a new book out, the third in a series, and I hadn’t heard of him previously. A fellow Aussie author, with a comparison to Matthew Reilly on the cover: this should be gold. Needless to say, the marketing people drew me in with false advertising. Mark’s book is a thriller and was a decent read, but he was more Cussler or Archer than Reilly. In fact, I was more reminded of Sahara (swap baking temperatures for freezing cold) than I was of Ice Station.

False advertising aside, this is quite a decent thriller. Worth a read, if you are after a James Rollins or Clive Cussler style novel. I’d expect later books in this series will probably “grab” the reader more, so maybe check out Mark’s new one.

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Short stories now on Amazon

That’s right. I decided that there was no better way to learn how to publish my novellas than to practice with two of my short stories. I’m now prepared for the task of crossing the threshold into “professional author” territory, letting my creations escape the confines of my head and harddrive. I’ve priced both short stories at the Amazon standard $0.99, which is about what I think short stories should go for – novellas $2.99, novels somewhere between $7 and $10.

Running-the-Cross Rum-and-Roses

So if you would like to read some short stories, may I suggest you download mine from Amazon. Running the Cross is “A test of mind and body, running the cross is the ultimate test. A dozen rail lines, thousands of tonnes of freight trains travelling at high speed, a race across the tracks to prove yourself. Will you survive?” Rum and Roses “The police don’t like ‘Skinny’ McAfree, but they do like him for the disappearance and possible murder of his next door neighbour.”

I really enjoyed writing both of these, especially Running the Cross, and hope you enjoy reading them.
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00B3WP0OK – Running the Cross

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00B3XTKFO – Rum and Roses

Book Review: Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth

Blood Oath (Nathaniel Cade #1)Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Every time I walk past a book store I just have to take a wander through and see what is on the shelf. The last time I saw two books that caught my eye, Luther: The Calling and Red White and Blood. I’d never heard of the latter, never heard of the author, Christopher Farnsworth, and this was the most recent in a three book series.

Sadly I’ve been burnt before, so I only walked out of the store with Luther. No matter how interesting this book looked, it was about vampires, politics and secrets, this could have been Twilight in the Whitehouse for all I knew. So instead I contacted my trusty local librarian and asked if they had any of the books on the shelves, they had all three. I’m glad they had them all.

Chris’s writing is witty, fast paced and well crafted. Essentially he has written a supernatural thriller in direct opposition to the sparkly lameness that has infected the supernatural genre. Despite the themes, the line isn’t crossed into horror territory, remaining firmly enjoyable to thriller fans who don’t like the gore aspect.

In short, I won’t be getting to Luther: The Calling, until after I finish all three of Chris’ Nathaniel Cade novels.

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Book Review: First Drop by Zoe Sharp

First Drop (Charlie Fox Thriller, #4)First Drop by Zoë Sharp
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As a new dad, there are a few sentiments expressed by Charlie Fox – the hero – about kids that feel spot on. There is nothing more annoying than a baby interrupting you reading a good book, especially during the final 50 pages! The annoying kid Charlie was protecting rang a little too true for me.

Zoe has certainly got all the right thriller ingredients. But she has also managed to mix them together into a great blend that is interesting and exciting. From go to arrhythmia, there is no let up, with Charlie trying to stay alive and figure out who isn’t trying to kill her. If I had one quibble, it was with a chance encounter that was rather important to the plot, I would have preferred it to be done a little different. But then again, I forgive this in Lee Child, Zoe is no less a writer, so it is an easily overlooked point.

If you haven’t read any of the Charlie Fox thrillers, do so soon.

NB: This review was written whilst trying to calm a baby who hadn’t slept all day and was having the grumps.

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Book Review: Lockdown by Sean Black

LockdownLockdown by Sean Black

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sometime last year Matt Hilton recommended a few authors to me, one of them being Sean Black. I dutifully downloaded a sample of Lockdown onto my Kindle, just letting it sit there, doing the electronic equivilent of gathering dust. Actually, in the digital age, I wonder if we will develop so many little phrases like “gathering dust” since the electronic medium has a lack of physical presence to have relatable descriptions assigned.

Over a year later I finally started Sean’s first novel, bought the full Kindle version, and plowed through this fast paced novel. I really enjoyed the brisk narrative and I could see similarities to Matt’s writing, which is probably why he was recommending Sean’s work.

Guess now I have to find more of Sean’s books.

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