The Final Minute by Simon Kernick

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Availability: Hardcover, Kindle & Nook (15.01.15), Paperback (21.05.15) 

My Rating: 4/5

Synopsis: The lights are on, and I’m standing outside a half-open door. Feeling a terrible sense of foreboding, I walk slowly inside. And then I see her. A woman lying sprawled across a huge double bed. She’s dead. There’s blood everywhere. And the most terrifying thing of all is that I think her killer might be me …’

A traumatic car-crash. A man with no memory, haunted by nightmares. When the past comes calling in the most terrifying way imaginable, Matt Barron is forced to turn to the one person who can help. Ex Met cop, turned private detective, Tina Boyd. Soon they are both on the run .….

My Review: As a seasoned Kernick reader he has a pretty tried and tested formula which keeps us readers happy. Thankfully his latest release is no different and you end up feeling like you’ve just done an hour long workout just reading the first few chapters! Matt Baron takes centre stage in this latest Kernick novel as a man that is suffering with a form of amnesia. He has been told he was involved in a car crash, and is being cared for by his sister. As Matt starts to slowly recover his memory starts to play tricks with him when he suffers a recurring dream. 

Matt knows that his dreams are showing him a dead woman, and he also knows that he has some connection to the killing, but just isn’t sure how. The story dragged me straight in and point blank refused to let me go until the last page. The character Matt was likeable but not all that nice if I’m being 100% honest. I had the feeling that he may not be what we first thought and as the story progresses my opinion of him see-sawed violently from one chapter to the next. 

The one thing I loved was the re-introduction of a great character Tina Boyd. She has appeared in The Crime Trade, Relentless, Deadline, Target, The Last Ten Seconds and Ultimatum. She is a great character and in this latest book she at first seems like she has taken the safer career option, which is until she meets Matt! As always the plot and pace are fast and frenzied and you are engaged from start to finish. There is plenty of action and you are constantly wondering when Matt’s chances are going to run out. This was certainly a great read and one that Kernick fans will enjoy. It’s also great to see Tina Boyd back in the saddle. I will as ever, look forward to the next hair raising book by Mr Kernick.

Stay Alive by Simon Kernick (Scope #2)

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My Rating: 5/5

Synopsis:

ONE WITNESS: You’re on a trip with your family, miles from anywhere. A shot rings out – and your whole life changes in an instant.

ONE SECRET: A woman is racing towards you, chased by three gunmen. Although you don’t know it, she harbours a deadly secret. She’s in terrible danger. And now you are too.

NO ESCAPE: You’re running, terrified, desperate to find safety. You know that the men hunting you have killed before. And if they catch you, you’ll be next .

My Review: Holy Shit! You know that feeling you get when you’re watching some really intense thriller and the music gets a bit slower, and the tension mounts…..that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach…do I watch? Do I turn away? Yep that one! Well this started from page 1 and finished pretty much when I had finished. If you haven’t read Simon Kernick before (first of all where on earth have you been) then you can compare his work to one of those movies! Sometimes SK books are hit or miss for me, some people (I agree occasionally) think that they are too unrealistic. Other times they are amazing. To date my favourite read has always been Relentless, until now! Although it may be a joint winner this latest book is certainly up there with his best stuff!

Amanda Rowan finds herself in a dangerous situation and is forced to flee her home. When she moves away she figures that her life is relatively safe and she can go about her normal day to day life. When she realises that this couldn’t be further from the truth she inadvertently drags a family into her mess. Jess is the elder sister up visiting her sister when Amanda Rowan drags her and her family into her dangerous world. From the moment this part of the story begins my heart was racing even faster than it had been up until that point. Mike Bolt makes a welcome return, although in my opinion we didn’t see nearly enough of him. Having said that I was so wrapped up in the story I soon forgot that!

Kernick has certainly exceeded my expectations and has produced an absolute heart thumping page turner. It was a book that I literally couldn’t put down. Every time I picked it back up that all too familiar sick feeling in the pit of my stomach returned. You almost feel like you are taking the journey with them. Every chapter throws up new danger, violence and more twists and turns than the best rollercoaster in the world! The pace was bordering on frenetic but the story had me gripped from the outset. Towards the end I thought I knew where the book was headed but boy was I wrong! I finished with a real feeliong that I may be visiting a cinema to see the movie version as this book has MAKE ME INTO A MOVIE written all over it. This latest Kernick is a true delight that his fans will be itching to get their fingers on!

Ultimatum by Simon Kernick

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My Rating: 3/5

Okay let me point out firstly that I am a big Simon Kernick fan and there aren’t many of his books that I don’t like. Sadly I felt a bit let down with this latest offering. His last book The Siege was a 5 star read that was absolutely brilliant and I literally couldn’t put it down. When I realised this was a follow up of sorts I looked forward to it. What I found frustrating was the beginning seemed so difficult to get into. Kernick has a magic touch when it comes to writing in that fast paced `what’s going to happen next’ kind of way. His writing is still just as brilliant but I found myself irritated with this book for a number of reasons.

Tina Boyd is currently a DC as she has been demoted because she tends to break every rule given to her. Mike Bolt is also back and running a special operation on Terrorism. These characters I have previously really liked, but for some reason they just grated on me this time around. How on earth Tina Boyd still has a job is beyond me! That aside, the story once again features Terrorism at the heart of it which I can understand especially in this day and age. We also see the return of William Garrett (AKA The Fox) who featured in The Siege. Boyd and Bolt are racing against the clock to stop an atrocity before it’s too late.

Like I said the writing quality is still there but this time around I just felt like the story was falling a little flat. I think aside from the characters irritating me, I would have liked to see Kernick make a departure from UK based terrorism and maybe do something a bit different. I know that a lot of people will enjoy this book, however I just felt like Kernick could do better. By no means do I mean that to sound condescending, I just wonder how I can be blown away by one book, and indifferent with another. The second half of the book was a lot easier to read and was much better than the first half as the pace picked up and there was a lot more going on. However, overall I was left feeling a little bit hard done by.

This latest release from Kernick will probably satisfy most readers, but is certainly not what I would call a shining example of his best work. I can only hope that the next one is just as brilliant as his books normally are.

Siege by Simon Kernick (Scope #1)

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My Rating: 5/5

I am a huge Kernick fan and love his style of writing. I can only compare reading his books to driving a Ferrari at full speed and no brake pedal in sight! This book was no different for each of the 368 pages. The awful thing about this book is that the world we live in today presents many situations like this one. This situation is where people are held hostage fearing for their lives; while others fight their own war.

From the very beginning of the story we are plunged into the horrific situation that many will find themselves in. You are quickly introduced to quite a lot of characters and in the beginning I wondered why there were so many. However, pretty soon you realise that all these people are going to collide in the most horrific of circumstances.

The short sharp chapters kept me turning the pages until I realised it was past my bedtime and I had demolished over half the book in one sitting! The characters in the book seem to grab at your emotions for one reason or another and there are so many different stories about why people are there you become intrigued to the point of distraction. One character named Scope really caught my eye and I would just love to see him feature in other books, but who knows what My Kernick will bring us next.

There are plot twists and surprises by the bucket load, so you won’t be disappointed in that sense. The only un-nerving thing for me is that this is all too much of a reality. Working in any major city on the world you will feel all too easily the reality bursting through the seams of the pages. Simon Kernick has once again released a book that will have you on the edge of your seat and as ever I end up disappointed that I have to wait so long for the next one!

The Murder Exchange by Simon Kernick

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My Rating: 4/5

I am slowly working my way through Simon Kernick’s books and this is the second book he released. Simon Kernick has a very certain type of writing style. His books are usually very fast paced and normally it takes only a matter of a chapter or two before you are thrown in at the deep end of a story.

This book followed the same format and we dive straight into Max Iversson’s bad decision and when it all goes wrong. However, although you are thrown in at the deep end very quickly, the suspense level is not as high as I am used to with a Kernick book. I think this is a sure sign of the amount of time he has been writing. The fact that I read his newer stuff first and have gone back to his older work has the disadvantage of showing his weaker points at the beginning of his career.


Although slightly weaker than usual the story itself was a good one. Max Iversson was a great character, and although he usually stays within the law, he finds himself inadvertently being drawn over to the other side in his fight for the truth. John Gallan was also a pretty good character and although the typical `copper’ we see in books, there was no glossing over his very mundane personal life which actually brought more realism to the book in my eyes. We flit between characters by chapter and as the story progresses you see more and more of each one and they eventually overlap.

Other characters making a brief appearance is Tina Boyd (who appears in later Kernick books) as well as the Holtz family who are a central part of the plot. As ever there is no holding back on the levels of violence and gore, although it’s all done in keeping with the story. As usual towards the end we pick up even more pace before getting to the climax and pretty good ending. Overall I really dud enjoy the book, but for some reason there seemed to be something lacking. I have thought about it and really do think this is a case of reading his newer books first. This is certainly not a bad book by any means, but think that it certainly isn’t a good example of the first class work that he has gone on to produce. Another solid read, but slightly lacking that magic something!

Deadline by Simon Kernick

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My Rating: 4/5

I am slowly working my way through Simon Kernick’s books ever since picking up the book Relentless. Now I have to point out that after reading Relentless which is a 10 out of 10 book, the expectation was high. I also had the misfortune of not reading the books in order of publication which I dislike doing, even if they are stand alone novels.

In this book we meet Mike Bolt, a member of the SOCA. I get the impression that he may have appeared in previous books but you still get an overall history of him so this book can be read on its own. Mike is dragged into the investigation but has no idea that Andrea Devern is the lady in trouble. This is a major part of the storyline which adds to the tension of the story itself.

Andrea Devern is a woman in distress and as usual Simon Kernick manages to translate the fear onto paper. You can almost imagine yourself standing right next to this woman whose daughter’s life is being threatened. The first few chapters we are thrown in at the deep end with Andrea and see her making split second decision in order to try and save her daughter. There is also an underlying element of suspicion with the woman.

As usual the pace is frighteningly fast and before you know it you are halfway through the book. One of the things I love about Kernick is that when you start reading his books you feel like you are being physically dragged in and you are powerless to stop reading. There are many twists and turns in this book and the suspense level is cranked high. We get to read about Andrea chasing her daughter, Mike chasing the case and surprisingly we also see a glimmer of Andrea’s daughter Emma and the nightmare she has been dragged in to.

We also see Tina Boyd make an appearance on the case, and she can be seen in other Kernick books. I love Simon Kernick’s style of writing and don’t think for that he can be faulted. This isn’t my favourite book of his (as Relentless is just the best), but this is definitely an easy to read, high octane thriller with lots of plot twists. Overall another corker of a read from Kernick, sit down and hold on tight for the ride.

Payback by Simon Kernick

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My Rating: 3/5

I am a huge fan of Kernick’s after reading Relentless. I also found previous book The Last Ten Seconds was a corker of a read. With this one I feel like it was a bit flat in comparison. The story itself was okay, and we get to see Tina Boyd and her obsessions once again. I just felt it wasn’t as good in comparison to his last one.

Like I said before Tina Boyd once again makes an appearance and all of her obsessions are highlighted even more in this book. She is a really good character and with the double up along with Dennis Milne they made for great lead characters. Dennis Milne has appeared in previous Kernick books but I have yet to read them. Even if you haven’t read past books of his, this book can still be read as a stand alone.

The story is mainly set in Manila and as usual the story starts out at breakneck speed. This is one of the main things that sets Kernick apart from other authors. He managed to pick you up and chuck you headfirst straight into the thick of it. The pace hardly lets up throughout the whole book and as usual you will be turning the pages quicker than you can read.

The story itself was okay, but just okay. I loved the writing and the characters but just felt there was something missing with this book. I couldn’t even tell you what it was, just that it doesn’t read as well as some of his other books. As usual the crime scenes are gory and gritty and frighteningly realistic. This is definitely a no holds barred author when it comes to the graphic descriptions of how people die. Having said that; it’s done brilliantly and just ends up drawing you further into the story.

Overall I felt a little bit mixed about this book. On the whole it was as usual a great book from Kernick, just not as good as others he has written and was lacking that usual magic sparkle. I would still recommend and look forward to reading his other books still on my to-read pile!

Severed by Simon Kernick

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My Rating: 4/5

Former Soldier Dan Tyler is about to have a very bad day. He awakes to find himself in a strange bed with your girlfriend lying dead next to him. Not only is she dead but he is covered in her blood and according to the DVD in the machine, it was him who killed her. He is then instructed to deliver a briefcase to a shady address in East London and then wait for further instructions. There seems no way out for Dan so he has no choice but to follow his instructions and only hope he can survive the next 24 hours and uncover what really happened before he ends up dead too.

My first Kernick book was Relentless which I cannot praise highly enough. I then moved on to his most recent book The Last Ten Seconds which I loved too. I had really high hopes for this book but it didn’t quite live up to expectation for me.

Don’t get me wrong, it certainly wasn’t a bad book, but in comparison to the last two I have read it just wasn’t as good. The great thing about Simon Kernick’s writing is that he isn’t backward in coming forward. Each book I have read starts at 100 miles per hour and doesn’t seem to let up in pace. Normally the first few chapters are what grab you and pull you in. In this respect Severed is no different and he certainly manages to do this. However, the story was a little on the side of too un-realistic.

I must confess that although believability is good, the whole point of reading is for fun so if the realism isn’t there then it doesn’t bother me too much. Having said that, this story at times, fell too far over the boundaries of being far-fetched for my liking. That aside, everything else needed for a great read was there. The character Tyler is an ordinary guy who happened to have served in the Army for quite a while. It is pretty clear from the beginning that there are not many people he can trust or turn to for help.

His army training certainly helps with some of the situations he comes across though and pretty soon we meet many other shady characters. Aside from Tyler we don’t get to learn too much about the other people in the story unless they are absolutely necessary which makes a refreshing change. Sometimes there is too much background on characters, whereas with this it felt quite balanced.

The first half of the book is spent with Tyler following orders and suffering the consequences, whereas the second half of the book changes pace again with him fighting to get some kind of control back into his crazy day. The story is split over two days but the vast majority of the book is over 24 hours. Along the way we meet the likely suspects for Tyler’s set up but as the story progresses it appears that nobody is who they appear to be.

Yes, this book is a little unrealistic but the writing is fantastic. As a reader I am drawn into the plot (no matter how far fetched) and find myself wondering who is involved from page to page. Yes this book is escapism with a capital E but it is a worthwhile read. Towards the end of the book you are thrown a few plot twists which I liked and the story is finished with an Epilogue which wraps it all up nicely. I enjoyed this book, although not as much as Relentless but I will continue to work my way through the rest of his books and look forward to it.

The Last Ten Seconds by Simon Kernick

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My Rating: 5/5

Kat’s Review: There are three people involved and none of them can predict just how dangerous things are going to turn out. DI Tina Boyd has a past that is littered with trouble and she just seems to attract it wherever she goes. She has been part of the team that has tracked down and now arrested the serial killer known as `The Night Creeper’. The only problem is he has now been kidnapped and it’s Tina’s job to hunt him down.

Sean Egan is an undercover cop who has managed to become embedded in a dangerous criminal gang posing as another gang member looking for work. He is roped in on a job that means kidnapping the serial killer known as `The Night Creeper’. What he doesn’t realise is that he will be forced to make decisions that could not only end his career but his life too.

The Night Creeper is in custody arrested by DI Boyd. Not only is he a dangerous and sadistic killer but he is acting and looking like an innocent man. The reputation he has built was based on his brutality that all the police witnessed at each of the 5 murders that he committed. The only problem is, once in custody, he is claiming that he has a watertight alibi meaning that if he didn’t commit one, then did he commit any.

OH MY GOD! There are so many words that I just can’t find to explain this book. Corker, cracking, brilliant, exceptional, breathtaking, fast, edgy, the list goes on. What I will say is that this is a five star book that confirms that Simon Kernick deserves his place in the world of crime writing.

I have been an avid Crime and Thriller reader for the best part of 16 years and am shocked at the fact that I only discovered Kernick by reading Relentless a mere 8 months ago. Relentless was itself an absolute gem of a book (for which I rated it 5 out of 5) and I was pleased that I had read one of his books and planned on reading a lot more. Unfortunately for me my `to read’ list was getting longer and Simon Kernick went to the back of my mind. That was until Tuesday of this week, when I wandered into a book shop, only to see his new release sitting there on the shelf. I grabbed it with earnest and placed it at the top of my list as it had been 8 months since I had read Relentless and wanted to see if this was as good as the last one. I needn’t have worried as this book was, if possible, even better than Relentless. Hence the reason for the review a mere 2 days later!

With this authors genius style of writing it took me no more than one chapter to become engrossed. The story hits you in the gut from page one and doesn’t give up until the very last page. It had all the ingredients of a crime book that any reader wants. Great meaty characters, all flawed in their own strange ways. A story that is paced so quickly you feel like you’re in the passenger seat of a Formula One car, and to top it all off a story that takes you on more twists and turns than a roller-coaster ride.

The characters Sean and Tina are written extremely well in the first person and I loved the fact that the switch between the two was easy. Tina has her own demons, as does Sean which always helps towards the realism of a character in my opinion. They weren’t picture perfect and both have the same streak for doing things their way, no matter what the cost, or what rules they have to break. The chapters weren’t too long and were punchy and to the point.

The crime scenes themselves are written extremely graphically, which not to everybody’s taste I understand, was completely relevant to the story and the type of violence that Sean and Tina were surrounded by. I could find no flaws with this book and am already adding him to my pre-order list. I suggest that if you haven’t read a book by Mr Kernick that you add him to your list now, you won’t be disappointed.

Relentless by Simon Kernick

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My Rating: 5/5

My Review: Having never read Simon Kernick this book was lent to me. I have to say this story grabbed me from chapter one and didn’t let go. It normally takes a couple of chapters to really engross yourself in a book but not in this case.

Tom Merron is playing with his children in the garden when a phone call comes in that will change his life forever. All he hears is his old and close friend Jack in agony and panting down the phone. He hears jack mutter the first two lines of his address and at the same time he realises he has just heard his friends final words. He knows then that his life along with his children and wife will never be quite the same. With fear in his heart he grabs his children before dropping them with his family and racing to his wife. When he arrives at his wife Kathy’s place of work at a University he realises that something is very wrong. He isn’t alone and when faced with somebody with a knife he has no clue whether his wife is safe or if this person is out to kill him. He escapes the University but gets arrested by the police who think he is the killer. When he has finally persuaded the police to release him he begins to wonder if it was a wise move. He is worried that he and his family’s life are in serious danger but wonders how he can stop it from happening. We also meet the DI Bolt who is on the case and trying to work out what on earth is going on and who is responsible.

The book is so fast paced and thrilling that I literally couldn’t put it down. I had that feeling that I just HAD to keep reading.Fantastic book with all the right ingredients. Will definately be reading more of his stuff.