The Concrete Blonde by Michael Connelly – Book Review

The Concrete Blonde by Michael Connelly book review

Detective Harry Bosch seems to have taken down the wrong serial killer instead of the evil Dollmaker four years ago. The accidentally shot serial killer’s broken and grieving family sues Harry in a jiffy, who acted with fundamentally good intentions. And, wouldn’t you know it, a new victim emerges. UNLUCKY.

From this point, events unfold on two fronts. The lawyer of the grief-stricken family puts the squeeze on Harry’s balls in the courtroom. (She’s evil. A driven bitch!*), while the other thread involves the police investigation into the case of the new victim, the concrete blonde. (The term “concrete” refers to both the victim’s final resting place and, in trucking slang, his profession.)

Connelly, who was a crime reporter for the Los Angeles TIMES for years, doesn’t disappoint. BOTH storylines are exciting and full of twists. For instance, I only figured out who the killer was on page 209, a few pages before Harry does, and, UNLUCKY for both of us, we were wrong. 🙁

What somewhat mars the overall picture is the last 50 pages: the process of how Harry reaches the perpetrator doesn’t organically follow the investigation. Furthermore, luring the killer into a trap bears a resemblance to “The Mentalist” TV series – generally not the most elegant solution. However, despite this, it’s still one of the best crime series you can read lately (considering that the Jack Reacher and Harry Hole series are gently descending).

The author has been my absolute favorite crime writer for about 15 years. Pieces of Connelly’s Bosch series belong to the few books that are genuinely IMPOSSIBLE to stop reading.

And in this installment, there’s even a very nice romantic thread that carries over from the previous book.

8.5/10

The Concrete Blonde (Harry Bosch #3) by Michael Connelly
448 pages, Paperback
Published January 1, 2014 by Orion

*an elegant reference to the game Jagged Alliance 2

Killing Gunther (2017) – Film Review

Killing Gunther (2017) movie poster

Blake, the assassin, decides, for reasons incomprehensible to himself and everyone else, decides to kill Gunther, the coolest hitman. To tackle the big job, he assembles a team of additional hitmen.

However, everyone in the team is an idiot. Or a loser. Or both an idiot and a loser. Not in a funny way, mind you, but in a lame way. And it’s quite satisfying to your soul when Gunther starts taking them out one by one. You just can’t fathom why he doesn’t throw (yet another one) grenade among them to end the whole mess.

Then, when the great Gunther finally appears in his full glory, you understand why. Damn, because Gunther himself is a sick bastard.

The movie feels like a copy of “What We Do in the Shadows” only with hitmen instead of bloodsuckers. (Although the vampire version starts much better than this movie, it’s even more nauseating, and it causes genuine mental pain to watch. Funny thing is, many IGNORANT PEOPLE claim it’s one of the best comedies of all time. Well, what a huge piece of nonsense!)

We only laughed at a single joke with Little “M” (and make no mistake, we genuinely laughed out loud). This happened at 15 minutes and 21 seconds, but by then, it seemed already clear that it was the friggin last time during Taran Killam’s film.

4/10

Killing Gunther (2017), action, comedy, thriller (IMDb)
Director: Taran Killam, Stars: Taran Killam, Hannah Simone, Arnold Schwarzenegger

The Traitor God by Cameron Johnston – Book Review

Edrin, the wizard, returns to his hometown after 10 years to avenge the death of his best and only [ 🙁 ] friend.

Edrin starts the investigation in a film noir style. (Edrin buddy is DAMN cynical, self-willed, and snarky.) Unfortunately, the investigation quickly turns into much more uninteresting dungeon crawling.

At the same time, it turns out that Edrin has the coolest magic ability… but also not really. It also turns out that it’s bad luck to be claustrophobic during dungeon crawling.

The investigation reveals a GLOBAL conspiracy and leads to SUPERPOWERFUL adversaries. Meanwhile, a bit of a Supernatural like feeling creeps in, exactly like when Sam and Dean burst into some place armed with a single demon-killing pen knife, get slammed into the wall by some demon, but at the end, we realize somehow they still WON…

And our feeling intensifies that we are actually reading a series finale: the events are so massive (there are gigantic combat robots too!) So it’s hard to imagine where the heck Cameron Johnston is going to raise the stakes from here, maybe into the stratosphere???

Oh, and during the story, we probably realize that the main character of The Traitor God is not as insensitive jerk as he thinks himself: his constant concerns are, after all, the scum of the city and the two toughest assassins, who could probably finish him off in about 3 seconds with a not-so-good, used cotton swab.

6.6/10

The Traitor God (Age of Tyranny, #1) by Cameron Johnston
432 pages, Paperback
Published June 5, 2018 by Angry Robot

The Andalucian Friend by Alexander Söderberg – Book Review

The Andalucian Friend by Alexander Söderberg - Book Cover

If you go by the title* and look forward to some overheated emotions and romantic squabbles, you’re out of luck because this is just a thriller; there’s hardly any love in it—numerically expressed, precisely: 0.

There isn’t really a classic crime thread (whodunit) in it. You can follow the power struggle between two criminal interest groups and the investigation of the police looking into one of the companies. Moreover, there are too many characters introduced at the beginning, making it difficult to follow the parallel events. But then the picture becomes clearer.

On another note, it’s challenging to connect with the main characters since each of them seems a bit bland. The blandest of them all is Hector, the Andalusian lover himself. In the second half of Söderberg’s book, the balance shifts, and the least sympathetic characters take center stage. The police also handle the investigation increasingly strangely, so you can only look at it with suspicion: Something is rotten in the state of Swedenmark. Several threads simply disappear into thin air (e.g., Jens, one of the best characters), and if you pay close attention, you may notice that the motivations of several characters are questionable, to say the least. (Hector’s decision regarding Sophie seems completely contrived.)

However, if you don’t pay closer attention, you’ll get a reasonably average but fair crime novel, and it’s guaranteed that if you reach the end, you’ll be interested enough in the fate of the characters to grab the next volume.

7/10

The Andalucian Friend (Brinkmann Trilogy #1) by Alexander Söderberg
464 pages, Paperback
Published May 1, 2014 by Vintage

* The Andalusian Friend was published in Hungary as Andalusian Lover.

Doctor Strange (2016) – Film – Review

Doctor Strange (2016)

As we know, Marvel movies are like theme parks. Well, this work is no exception to this rule: colorful, dazzling, but still somewhat too simple.

The good Doctor Strange is forced to change his course due to a traffic accident (it can’t be emphasized enough: DON’T USE YOUR PHONE WHILE DRIVING!). A cool surgeon turns into a sorcerer.

Too bad that in the meantime, he doesn’t really win our sympathy, as he’s NOT A VERY PLEASANT personality. Thus, we watch his progress at the wizarding school with little interest – learning this profession (we know well from Harry Potter) can take several long years… Except, darn it, if you have a photographic memory because then you can learn Aramaic, Hottentot, and another 5 dead languages in 3 weeks, usually used to write spells.

Let’s not even talk about the evil enemy, Kruelcilius! Let’s just hint at his motivations: Imagine participating in a conference call, or, uh, Skype, with Hitler, Comrade Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Timur Lenk charmingly smiling at you, saying, “Hey, buddy, we’ve got a killer offer here that will make the world a much better place.” And you responding like, “okay, gotcha.”

Tilda Swinton in Doctor Strange screenshot

So, everything is too fast, superhuman in scale, and UNBELIEVABLE. That’s why you can’t take the whole thing seriously.

The only truly good thing in the movie is Tilda Swinton, the mother of the wizards. I dig his shiny noggin!

6/10

Doctor Strange (2016), action, adventure, fantasy (IMDb)
Director: Scott Derrickson, Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams

Unfortunately, the name Timur Timurovich reminded me of a joke that’s about a thousand years old, and for those under 50, it might not mean much, but well, here it goes:

Mashenka is walking in the forest when a whispering voice comes from a bush:
Mashenka, drop your panties!

Read more

The Fifth to Die by J.D. Barker – Book Review

The Fifth to Die (4MK Thriller #2) by J.D. Barker book review

If I were a serial killer, I certainly wouldn’t complicate my own life with as much convolution as Ansom Bishop does in the sequel to “The Fourth Monkey.” I wouldn’t plan things so meticulously and with plans within plans, and definitely not on such a tight schedule.
I wouldn’t want to constantly watch the clock, fearing I might miss out on my own machinations.

Meanwhile, I’d be under investigation for the heinous acts committed in the previous installment. I certainly wouldn’t keep a diary, only for half the police force and the FBI (to whom I generously provide it) to feast on, gathering useful information against me. But what do I know…

So, in Barker’s book, there’s a bit too much complexity, it’s a bit overwritten, and the FBI subplot (hello, Agent Poole) is utterly unnecessary. The two INCREDIBLE twists can easily be predicted well in advance by anyone’s child.

However, Bishop’s diary (a book within the book, though considerably shorter than in the first installment) reads well, and unlike the main plot, the reader’s curiosity propels it forward… And miraculously, by the end, even the infinitely complicated intrigue gains some semblance of meaning. Well, to some extent.

So, I’ll have to read the concluding part… darn it, cursed curiosity!

6.5/10

The Fifth to Die (4MK Thriller #2) by J.D. Barker
384 pages, Paperback
Published July 23, 2018 by HQ Fiction GB

Locke ​& Key Master Edition 1. by Joe Hill · Gabriel Rodriguez – Comic Book Review

Locke ​& Key Master Edition 1. (Locke & Key 1-2.) by Joe Hill · Gabriel Rodriguez

A mother, after the tragic death of her husband, moves back to her childhood home, the KEY HOUSE, with her three children… where various keys scattered throughout the house open different doors, leading to physical places, like our dear Aunt Maggie’s pantry, or sometimes, right into someone’s BRAIN… Clever!

However, someone else is also looking for these darn keys.

Who is it? Well, that person is certainly a scumbag…

And this is probably the first comic book I didn’t get bored reading. Despite Joe Hill’s dreadfully overwritten, seemingly novel-like, hefty brick (Spore, NOS4A2), the story is particularly tight. It’s thrilling, twisty, dramatic, touching, funny. And occasionally a bit sexy too.

(I only encountered one problem during my enjoyment: the text bubbles were filled with such tiny letters that I had to borrow my hundred-year-old grandma’s eyeglasses from about six or seven eyeglass generations ago. From then on, I could view the font size quite differently, thankfully.)

I wouldn’t wholeheartedly recommend Hill and Rodriguez’s work to homophobes due to the prominent LGBTQ+ elements.

Nor to the faint-hearted due to the killings.

As for the visuals? Well, damn beautiful.

8.5/10

Locke ​& Key Master Edition 1. (Locke & Key 1-2.) by Joe Hill · Gabriel Rodriguez
328 pages, Hardcover
Published: June 2, 2015 by IDW Publishing

The Locke & Key Master Edition Volume 1 features the first two story arcs, “Welcome to Lovecraft” and “Headgames”