When I’ve read and enjoyed an author’s work, I don’t usually hesitate to go for their new books. Anthony Horowitz has written two Sherlock Holmes based novels that I’ve loved and rank among my favorite reads. I read this title and the blurb, and I knew this would be one that I’d find interesting. I got this as a gift for my birthday too.
I remembered reading another book that Harlan Coben had written. Perhaps that one read was enough for me to know this is an author to look out for. That’s one of the reasons why I picked this book, the other being the blurb that piqued my interest.
When one of my favorite authors releases a new novel, it usually gets top priority in my reading list. One such author is Matthew Reilly. I’ve read almost all his books, and have most of them in my shelf. When this book The Great Zoo of China came to my hand, the cover design itself gave me an idea of what to expect. The question was, would it live up to the billing and be a brilliant novel? Come on, bringing dragons into the picture, that was already a point in favor of the novel. A friend said – maybe it’s like Jurassic Park.
The prologue set the base for what I knew was to come. A death – to put forward the notion of more such deaths and more action scenes to come. And an introduction – to the character who is central to the novel, Dr. Cassandra Jana “CJ” Cameron. The determination and courage she shows in the novel is something that stood out for me. The novel itself is set on the notion of competition. What one nation has in favor of it makes the other envious. China, as its answer to Disneyland, brings forth a one-of-a-kind zoo called The Great Zoo of China. Its inhabitants – dragons. A lot of dragons kept from escaping by a large magnetic field. How China found them – read the novel to find out. But as humans, we underestimate other life-forms. And that mistake in this context leads to the dragons breaking free from the control of the Chinese, and letting loose carnage. The first thought of CJ and the rest is to escape, but realizing that the intention of the dragons are the same, they have to prevent that.
I do not mind a little over-the-top action in Reilly’s books. It’s something he has been criticized for before, and I have no doubt that he will be criticized for again. But the book, as usual, keeps me on the edge of my seat, turning pages to know what happens next. The way he brings out the evolution of the dragons, the different kinds and their choice of territory, the battle between kinds for territorial rights and such is quite brilliant. It shows his research on reptiles and their abilities, strengths as well as weaknesses to be excellent. And the political war that is being waged, that also is portrayed well. Given that the dragons demonstrate a certain strength earlier in the novel, the way some meet their ends is a bit unbelievable and leads me to question that; even more so when they are also portrayed as wise and tactical. Another thing that could have added more punch to the novel is a relationship aspect to make the fight for survival even more priceless, but CJ is portrayed as the strong and single type instead. But those are small points in what is otherwise, in my opinion, an excellent thriller.
Reilly has delivered a novel that will definitely be part of my favorites shelf, and one that I will read again soon. I await his next book eagerly.
|Title: The Great Zoo of China|
|Author(s): Matthew Reilly||Genre: Thriller|
|ISBN/ASIN: 9781409155591||Publisher: Hachette India|
(© 31st August 2015)
Thrillers make interesting reading. The genre is my favorite, and the most read in my shelves. I’ve read quite a few authors and some have become a favorite, so much so that I have their complete collection. James Rollins and Grant Blackwood were authors I had previously not heard of when I took it for reading. The premise of the book interested me.
The Kill Switch follows a former army ranger Tucker Wayne and his military working dog with exceptional abilities, Kane, who is able to understand a lot more words than you’d expect of a dog perhaps. They attempt to extract a man who holds in his hand the secret to a bioweapon that could change the world as we know it, a Russian pharmaceutical magnate. If only it was that easy, huh? If the duo wants the secret to save the world from it, there are others who want it to put its deadly nature into, well, deadly use. And thus begins a chase from one corner of the world to another.
Action sequences are an important part of any novel in this genre, and there are enough of them in this book. The pace is good and the story moves along fine. I liked the characters of both Tucker and Kane, but more the latter. I think it’s nice to have a doggy detective sometimes. The chapters from his point of view were especially nice. Unfortunately, the remaining characters felt uninteresting. And though a straightforward plot is not a terrible thing, I wished there were a few twists in this plot. It’d have made the book more interesting than it is.
The book is engaging and fun, though straightforward. Not the best thriller, but not the worst either.
Title: The Kill Switch
Series: Tucker Wayne #1
Author: James Rollins & Grant Blackwood
Publisher: Orion / Hachette India
Price: INR 399
(31st December 2014)
To take a character created by another author and spin a new tale around him is difficult. It’s really difficult if the character is absolutely beloved and world famous. When Anthony Horowitz took Sherlock Holmes and spun A House of Silk around him, I had expected that book to be a flop. I was proved wrong there. When his new novel came out with the words “Sherlock Holmes is dead and darkness falls”, the expectation just became higher. The play on the word “falls” didn’t slip by me, and I knew the novel would begin from the Reichenbach Falls again. But Moriarty took me by surprise. A book without Holmes in it given the stamp of approval by the Conan Doyle Estate? How could it be?
Moriarty is not a run-of-the-mill crime thriller. It follows the aftermath of the events at the Reichenbach Falls, and takes the plot forward from there. Athelney Jones, well known to Sherlock Holmes fans as the Scotland Yard detective, is sent by the British Police to investigate the events. He meets Frederick Chase, a Pinkerton agent, who has reached Switzerland following his own clues. Athelney Jones, having verified that Moriarty is dead, is convinced by Chase that a far more fiendish criminal mastermind, Devereux, has taken the place of the professor. And the duo, like a new Holmes and Watson, must find a way to stop Devereux, a man determined to engulf London in a tide of murder and menace. Can they do it?
Having completed the read, the first word that comes to mind is “Wow”. How beautifully this tale of crime and deception is spun. Starting from the first chapter, where Chase expresses his doubts about the events at Reichenbach Falls, to the last chapter where the story is turned on its head, the flow is brilliant and it kept me hooked. The movement from chapter to chapter is so seamlessly taken care of, it’s hard to fault. It can’t be faulted. The characters, most of them are new, are done due justice. Athelney Jones, I wondered why this detective was chosen, has his quirks and his confidence like in The Sign of the Four. There is the science of deduction, paramount to any Holmes novel. The description of the crime scenes are vivid, and the emotions of the detectives as well. The novel kept me guessing till the end, which truly was unexpected (for the most part).
Any fan of the legendary consulting detective will try to look at the clues and play along as they read. Though I honestly can say that I didn’t see the end coming as it did, I knew there was something amiss, and I told to myself, “This will happen soon” as I read along. And it did. Not the way I expected it to, but it did. That’s the only thing that keeps me from rating it fully; because other than that, I found it brilliant. Into my favorites shelf this goes, just like The House of Silk. I can’t wait to see what Horowitz comes up with next!
Series: Sherlock Holmes #2
Author: Anthony Horowitz
Genre: Crime Thriller
Publisher: Orion Books / Hachette India
Price: INR 599
(22nd November 2014)