Monday, 16 November 2015

Fortune 69 Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
David Heath

Published By
Self Published

Genre
Thriller

Synopsis

Trigger is once again sitting at home in front of his computer; only this time, he's got a stomach full of powerful anti-depressants and gin. As an outcast that's becoming disillusioned by society's increasing addiction to social media, he decides to end it all. 

He posts his suicide note on Fortune-69.com, his digital playground of choice, but things don't go exactly as planned. When Trigger unexpectedly wakes up the next morning, he quickly learns two things: at some point during the night he unknowingly posted an inspirational message that was deleted by moderators, and that he now has a legion of anonymous followers who want to follow his every command. 

Trying to find a way to cope with his bizarre family history, Trigger finds himself tangled up with a sexually liberated cosplayer who pushes him to his limits and a mysterious hacker, intent on changing the world through digital anarchy.

Review

I mainly know David Heath through his stellar comic book work so when I had the chance to take a look at one of his novels, I jumped at the chance.  I read the book but when it came to actually writing the review for it, I struggled.  I didn't struggle because it's a bad book, far from it.  I struggled because it's a very hard book to explain and get a proper handle on.

The first thing that struck me the most about the novel was the writing style.  It's simple, in a good way, and almost lyrical in places.  That leads the story to flow very well in such a way that you can't put it down.  Another thing that struck me was the fact that while you could see some of Heath's influences, such as Chuck Palahniuk, he puts them forward is his own unique voice.

The story itself is incredibly bleak, although just reading the synopsis should prepare you for that but Heath manages to still infuse a rather dark sense of humour through the entire story.  In fact, those moments sometimes take the form of making you ask yourself if you should be laughing at it.  I liked that approach because it really made the bleak and unforgiving landscape portrayed by Heath one that really did come to live.

Characters wise, I would have liked to have seen a little more more depth in places but the main characters of Trigger and Charity are very well thought out.  They're flawed, broken and sometimes intensely unlikable yet you find yourself caring about them regardless of that.  It's a bit of a strange feeling to spend some of the book hating the characters but then managing to find a form of sympathy for them no matter how small it appears to be.

For me, there were two parts that stuck out a little bit.  There's a scene that is very shocking about halfway through that really sticks in your head.  It felt like a sledgehammer to the gut and I can see why some readers didn't like it and I can see why some readers felt it really ramped up the intense atmosphere of the novel itself.  Personally, I wasn't offended by it's inclusion, it just felt a little bit like it needed a slightly stronger set up for it to truly be effective but with it as it is now, it still works and works very well.

The other part of the book that stuck out for me was the simple fact that the ending felt like it came out of nowhere.  Fortune 69 had done a very good and very effective job at building up the tension to a point where you felt like something huge was going to happen.  Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad ending at all.  It's just that I felt like there should have been a little more to it but the other part of me liked the bleak and dark ending because it really kept in pace with the rest of the story.

All in all, for a debut novel, this shows Heath has a very good head for stories that will stay with you long after the novel has ended as well as stories that have a dark underbelly to them.  If this is a debut novel then wait and see what his others will be like once he has more experience after his pen.

Story 8.5/10
Characters 7.5/10
Cover 7/10
Recommended 8/10
Overall 31/40

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Doctor Who: Four Doctors - Issues 1-5 Review


Written By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Paul Cornell

Art By
Neil Edwards
Ivan Nunes

Lettering By
Richard Starkings
Comicraft's Jimmy Betancourt

Covers By
Neil Edwards

Published By
Titan Comics

Genre
Science Fiction, Adventure, Television Tie-In

Synopsis

What shocking past event brings three Doctors together — to combat an unknown foe with three incarnations in its sights?

Review

Recently, Titan Comics have been doing a really good job of having ongoing series of the Tennant era, Capaldi era and Smith era of the long running character of the Doctor as well as a mini-series featuring the criminally underrated Eccleston era as well.  They all managed to keep the things that made those versions of the characters so popular yet managed to put their own spin on them.

That's when Titan Comics announced that there would be a big crossover event featuring four versions of the Doctor, hence the name of the mini series, but who would the fourth version be?

Well, after reading all five parts, the first thing that struck me was the simple fact that the story was more 'the three Doctor's' and not four because the fourth addition to the team was barely in it at all and I felt that was a little bit of a missed opportunity.  I would have loved to see that version butt heads with Capaldi for one as that would have been a battle of wits that would have absolutely flown off of the page.  A shame that it didn't happen really.

Other than that, the story itself is a rather interesting one.  It shows the characters in a different light and does a fantastic job of showing just how much of an emotional toll that it takes on the Doctor as well as the companions themselves.  That was a nice touch in between the various twists and turns that the story threw at the reader.

The art in these five issues is uniformly good for nearly the entire run.  There were a couple of panels where the detailing seemed slightly lacking but it really made the story feel alive and like it wouldn't be out of place in the actual television series itself.

All in all, this was a good crossover event.  I was a little disappointed that the fourth Doctor incarnation was barely used but at the same time, it was used in such a way that it really kicked the story off in an exciting manner.  I don't think that it was up to the normal high standards of the single series that Titan Comics do put out but it's still well worth a read.

Story 7.5/10
Art 7.5/10
Cover 7.5/10
Recommended 7.5/10
Overall 30/40

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Made To Kill Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Adam Christopher

Published By
Titan Books

Genre
Mystery, Science Fiction, Thriller

Synopsis

Ray is the perfect detective – tireless, logical, and efficient, with a knack for wry one-liners. He’s also the last robot on Earth – turns out people just don’t like robots, even if they like the idea of them.

As the lone employee of the Electromatic Detective Agency – except for Ada, office gal and supercomputer, the constant voice in Ray’s inner ear – Ray prefers to stay out of sight. So when a familiar-looking woman arrives at the agency wanting to hire Ray to find a missing actor, he’s inclined to tell her to take a hike. But she has the cold, hard gold – and Ray was programmed to make a profit. Plunged into a glittering world of fame, fortune, and secrecy, Ray uncovers a sinister plot that goes much deeper than the silver screen – and this robot is in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

Review

Adam Christopher is fast becoming a writer with a reputation for being incredibly versatile with his writing so when I read that his next release would be an old fashioned detective story but featuring a huge robot then I was very eager to get my hands on it.

After reading it, I can honestly say that this book is yet more proof that he really is as versatile as a lot of his reviews make him out to be.

Story wise, this novel has all the ingredients of being a classic but that's not just hyperbole on my part.  Christopher manages to create a story that wouldn't feel out of place in a Humphrey Bogart movie yet does so while mixing in science fiction, huge robots and more.  Talking of robots, another majorly impressive part of the book is that you end up feeling like Ray is human.  Despite all the scenes that describe the various things that this robotic detective can do, Christopher manages to make him seem completely human and sympathetic at the same time.

It's the same with the other characters too.  There is a long cast list here and each one manages to have their own personalities, lives and even motives for their actions in the story no matter how big or small a part they play.

However, my favourite part of the book is quite simply the fact that it never stops being surprising.  The novel starts off as a simple missing persons case for Ray and stays so for a chunk of the book.  You start to feel settled in that, this is what the story is going to be but then it takes off in a massively different and surprising direction.  I loved that twist and, for me, it made the book a must have in my collection.

All in all, this is an utterly brilliant, well paced book with so many surprises and twists that I wouldn't be surprised if you would have to read it multiple times to catch them all.  The story doesn't get stuck in the idea of a robot detective, instead making the character seem more human than a lot of the others involved.  A definite must have.

Story 9/10
Characters 8/10
Cover 10/10
Recommended 9/10
Overall 36/40

The Dead Assassin (The Paranormal Casebooks of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Vaughn Entwistle

Published By
Titan Books

Genre
Supernatural, Mystery, Thriller

Synopsis

1895. Victorian England trembles on the verge of anarchy. Handbills plastered across London scream for revolution and insurrection. Terrorist bombs are detonating around the Capitol and every foreigner is suspected of being a bomb-throwing Anarchist lurking beneath a cape. Even Palace officials whisper warnings of a coup-de-tat.

Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle is summoned from a peaceful dinner in the palm-room of the Tivoli restaurant to the scene of a gruesome crime that has baffled and outraged Scotland Yard's best. A senior member of Her Majesty's government has been murdered—assassinated—in the most brutal and savage fashion. The body of his attacker lies several streets away—riddled with pistol bullets that inexplicably failed to stop him from carrying out his lethal mission. More perplexing, one of the attending detectives recognizes the dead assassin as Charlie Higginbotham, a local Cockney pickpocket and petty thief. However, Higginbotham is not just an improbable suspect, but an impossible suspect, for the young detective collared Charlie for the murder of his wife and watched him take the drop two weeks previously, hanged at Newgate Prison.

Conan Doyle calls in his friend Oscar Wilde for assistance and soon the two authors find themselves swept up in an investigation so bizarre it defies conventional wisdom and puts the lives of their loved ones, the Nation, and even the Monarch herself in dire peril.

The murders continue, committed by a shadowy cadre of seemingly unstoppable assassins. As the sinister plot unravels, an implausible theory becomes the only possible solution: someone is reanimating the corpses of executed criminals and sending them shambling through the London fog ... programmed for murder.

Review

When I reviewed the first book in this series, The Revenant of Thraxton Hall, I was taken with the pacing, the twists and turns and the casting of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his friend Oscar Wilde in the Sherlock Holmes style characters while they attempted to solve a supernatural mystery.  It was a great first installment and that mean that I was very eager to get to read this one.

The first thing that I noticed about this second installment is that it is a lot darker than the first novel and that gives us an absolutely absorbing story that has some truly shocking moments.

The story itself is extremely well paced.  Because of that, the characters move quickly during the mystery itself but Entwistle has written this is such a way that there are some very well written moments where the characters grow as the novel goes on.  Oscar Wilde, at times, can come across as a rather reluctant partner in the detective team up but there are other times that he seems quite over excited about helping.  I loved that his personality was so well written and written in such a fun way that he leaped off of the page.

I also liked the retelling of the relationship between Doyle and his second wife.  He did come across as a bit of dick during a couple of moments here but that was a good thing in a way because he didn't come across as perfect and that's a good way of writing a character.  I've always hated the types of books where the main character is purer than driven snow.  Here, that isn't the case.  He makes bad choices, he makes mistakes and I loved that.

All in all, this is a truly interesting and sometimes shocking second installment of the series and I can't wait for the next one.

Story 8.5/10
Character 8/10
Cover 8/10
Recommended 8.5/10
Overall 33/40