A Matter of Blood by Sarah Pinborough
Crime , Gollancz , Sarah Pinborough / August 22, 2011

Once again I’ve have managed to coax another review out of that marvellous fellow @SamaelTB,  which is not as easy as you might think. This time out he casts his beady eye over A Matter of Blood by Sarah Pinborough. As ever a big thanks goes to Sam for his efforts. The recession that grips the world has left it exhausted. Crime is rising in every major city. Financial institutions across the world have collapsed, and most governments are now in debt to The Bank, a company created by the world’s wealthiest men. But Detective Inspector Cass Jones has enough on his plate without worrying about the world at large. His marriage is crumbling, he’s haunted by the deeds of his past, and he’s got the high-profile shooting of two schoolboys to solve – not to mention tracking down a serial killer who calls himself the Man of Flies. Then Cass Jones’ personal world is thrown into disarray when his brother shoots his own wife and child before committing suicide – leaving Cass implicated in their deaths. And when he starts seeing silent visions of his dead brother, it’s time for the suspended DI to go on the hunt himself – only…

Horns by Joe Hill
Gollancz , Horror , Joe Hill / June 14, 2011

Once, Ig lived the life of the blessed: born into privilege, the second son of a renowned musician, the younger brother of a rising late-night TV star. Ig had security and wealth and a place in his community. Ig had it all, and more – he had the love of Merrin Williams, a love founded on shared daydreams, mutual daring, and unlikely midsummer magic. The beautiful, vivacious Merrin was gone – raped and murdered, under inexplicable circumstances – and Ig the only suspect. He was never tried for the crime, but in the court of public opinion, he was and always would be guilty. Now Ig is possessed of horns, and a terrible new power – he can hear people’s deepest, darkest secrets – to go with his horrible new look. He means to use it to find whoever killed Merrin and destroyed his life. Being good and praying for the best got him nowhere. It’s time for a little revenge; it’s time the devil had his due. I think that Joe Hill has managed to tap into a genuine primal fear with this novel. What if you could read their minds with a single touch? Now part of you…

The King of Plagues by Jonathan Maberry
Gollancz , Jonathan Maberry , Thriller / May 6, 2011

It was the last thing he wanted, but Joe Ledger is back… Saturday 09:11 Hours: a blast rocks a London Hospital. Thousands are dead or injured… 10:09 Hours: Joe Ledger arrives on the scene to investigate. I knew going into this review that I was in for a compelling read. The last Joe Ledger novel, The Dragon Factory, ended with an event that was guaranteed to have repercussions in the series going forward and I was curious where the story would go. The members of the Department of Military Sciences (DMS) have suffered a loss and as this third novel begins Joe is on leave in the UK and facing an uncertain future.  When an explosion destroys a London hospital Joe is drawn back into the murky world of counter terrorism and global conspiracies. A new group, called The Seven Kings, are on the rise and it is up to the DMS to try and stop them. Using the ten plagues of Egypt as their template The Kings are trying to generate as much chaos throughout the world as is possible. They are wealthy and powerful group, having near limitless resources. The DMS are finally up against a foe that can match…

The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie
Fantasy , Gollancz / March 4, 2011

Three Men. One Battle. No Heroes. The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie is a standalone novel set in the same world he created for the First Law trilogy. It follows the course of a single battle, over the period of three days, between the forces of the Union and the Northmen. The opposing armies have been dancing around one another for many months but in the valley of Osrung, they finally come together in a definitive clash. There are three main characters in the novel. Firstly there is Bremer dan Gorst, a disgraced master swordsman fighting in the Union army. He is attempting to reclaim his place in his King’s court and will stop at nothing in order to do so. Next is Curden Craw, a lifelong soldier in the army of the Northmen. He has reached the age where the appeal of battle is swiftly receding. His nerves and knees are shot and he wants nothing more than peace. Finally there is Prince Calder, considered a coward by many, he is only interested in power and how best to avoid getting involved in all the fighting. His father was once king of the Northmen and Calder continues to crave the…

Elves I: Once Walked With Gods by James Barclay
Fantasy , Gollancz , James Barclay / November 26, 2010

Today’s review comes from guest reviewer MadNad, my better half. Thanks for your sterling work dearest. Being a big fan of the Raven series , I was very keen to read this. I find that there is nothing better to help me unwind from the stresses of modern life than a bit of high fantasy. Set in the same world as the Raven books, but at a point 3000 years earlier, the long-lived elves are on the brink of an all-out civil war. After a great inter-dimensional battle against the demon Garonin, the elves suffer massive losses and stranded from their home world, the surviving refugees make their home in Calius. Blamed for the large death toll, their disgraced leader, Takaar, disappears.  After an ill-fated coup, the fragile order of Elven society falls into chaos as the different castes(or ‘threads’) of elves, despite their dwindling numbers, fight amongst themselves in order to seize power.  Former lovers of Takaar, Katyett – arch of the elite warriors the TaiGethen, and Pelyn – arch of Al-Arynaar, both endeavour to prevent the troubles escalating. 10 years after his disappearance, a low-ranking TaiGethen called Auum (who readers of the Raven series will find a familiar…

The Dragon Factory by Jonathan Maberry
Gollancz , Horror , Jonathan Maberry / September 28, 2010

Time to sneak in just one more review before Zombie Appreciation Month begins. After reading Patient Zero I was very keen to read more of Jonathan Maberry’s work. I really liked his idea of terrorists creating a pathogen that reanimates the dead and using them as a bio-weapon. Patient Zero whips along at a breakneck pace and I found the writing superb. In its sequel, The Dragon Factory, Joe Ledger and Echo team are back. However, no zombies this time out. Instead, the team are in a race against time to stop a maniacal billionaire geneticist who has plans to reinvent the human race. He has put together a globe spanning scheme called the Extinction Wave that targets only certain genetic groups. When the story begins, none of Department of Military Science are aware of what’s going on. For a sizeable chunk of the novel they are largely ignorant of the scale of the threat they are facing. The characters were left fumbling around in the dark, and playing catch up all the way through, which adds some additional tension for the reader. The billionaire, Cyrus Jakoby, makes a compelling villain. He is entirely single minded and the absolute embodiment…

Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry
Gollancz , Horror , Jonathan Maberry / August 17, 2010

“When you have to kill the same terrorist twice in one week, then there’s either something wrong with your skills or something wrong with your world. And there’s nothing wrong with my skills.” I have a confession to make. I’m thoroughly unsettled by zombies. It doesn’t matter if they are the old style slowly shuffling undead or fast moving rage fuelled beasts made popular over the last couple of years. The whole concept leaves an unpleasant sensation in the pit of my stomach. I think that it’s something to do with the thought that they were once alive. They were just like you or I. Now they are nothing –  just an empty husk with the singular purpose of destruction. In an effort to face my fears I have started reading quite a lot of zombie fiction. Ironically, this constant observation of all things zombie has made me become slightly obsessive about them. Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry has an interesting take on the zombie mythos. There are no supernatural elements at work here. These zombies are the product of scientific research. The main crux of the novel is that terrorists have developed a virus that kills swiftly and then…