Posts Tagged: omer

Mystery review: ‘Web Of Fear’ by Mike Omer

November 25, 2016 Review 0

The third outing with Omer’s gloriously quirky cops in the Glenmore Park Police Department. This time the spotlight is firmly on Hannah, who’s a bit of a mess in lots of ways, but grimly determined to prove her worth to the department. Naturally, almost everything that can go wrong does. Poor Hannah!

This story was a bit different, since it focused on a child kidnapping case. That’s always going to be harrowing, and occasionally the author’s sense of humour jarred with the grimness of a child in captivity. I’d find myself laughing at one of those wildly funny scenes the author does so well, and then the switch to Abigail in her cellar would have me feeling guilty for finding anything funny. And therein lies the skill of the writer, to invoke that very visceral response in a reader.

If I have a complaint at all about this series, it’s that the constant jumping from character to character can be unsettling. I didn’t notice it so much in the previous two books, but there was a moment in the middle of this book when I really wanted to settle down with just one point of view. It can be very illuminating to jump around, and the author uses the technique to brilliant advantage sometimes (that poor birthday guy! But so funny), but it can be tricky to avoid overuse. Fortunately, the end was just as adrenalin-filled and nail-biting as one could hope, and ensured another five stars. A great series.

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Mystery review: ‘Deadly Web’ by Mike Omer

August 5, 2016 Review 0

“If there was one single reason to be a man, it was the ability to pee in a bottle.” With this opening line, you know at once that this isn’t just another police procedural mystery — this is a Mike Omer mystery, and that means large dollops of humour mixed in with the serial killers and blood. I’m not normally a fan of police procedurals (give me a cozy any day), but I’ll read anything this man puts out. I love his books.

I enjoyed the first in the Glenmore Park series, Spider’s Web, but this one is even better. The characters are becoming even more finely drawn than before, and this time the crimes to be solved seemed more realistic and the police handling a tad more sensible. I also liked that the two cases to be solved didn’t turn out to be somehow related at the end. Or perhaps I should more cautiously say, if there was a connection between them, it whizzed over my head (which is always possible).

The twist to both cases is that they revolve around the internet (a theme of the series – the web of the titles). One murder victim has a secret online identity harrassing women. The other has a secret online identity in a computer game. Trawling through the victims’ social media presence is a critical part of the police investigation, and I absolutely loved the time when the cops had to go into the game to interview a witness. A classic moment!

If you like police procedurals with compelling characters, intriguing mysteries and some laugh-out-loud moments, I highly recommend this series. Five stars.

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Mystery review: ‘Spider’s Web’ by Mike Omer

May 26, 2016 Review 0

I don’t read many police procedurals, being more of an amateur sleuth type of gal, but I’ve loved the author’s previous books so this new series was a must-read for me. The plot is the usual – there’s a seemingly random killing of a jogger in a park, and it gradually becomes clear that this is just one of a sequence of similar cases. The murderer’s MO is intriguing – the victim receives a text with a picture of something (a gun, a car…) and shortly thereafter is killed with that item as the murder weapon. And there’s a messed-up cop, and an interfering journalist, and a perky forensic psychologist (a profiler) and all the familiar elements.

What makes this book different from a thousand others? Firstly, the characters. You’ve never lived until you’ve encountered Rabbi Friedman. I swear he’s not like any Rabbi you’ve ever heard of before. Frankly, Rabbi Friedman is awesome, and I hope he’s going to turn up in later books in the series, because he’s just too wonderful to be a one-shot deal. Atticus Hoffman is great fun, too. Then there are the cops, who all have their quirks but are still totally believable, rounded characters, ordinary characters that are so real you feel you’ve known them for years.

The main cop, Mitchell, gradually disintegrates over the course of the book, but it all makes perfect sense and the reader feels all his bewildered pain and suppressed anger, and totally sympathises. I loved his awkward conversations with Zoe, the profiler, someone he completely doesn’t get but has to try to come to terms with anyway. His relationship with his sister, Tanessa, is a lovely mixture of pride and older brother protectiveness.

And then there’s the humour. Some authors skip the humour altogether with this kind of story, and some will throw in the odd snippet of black humour, but this book runs the full gamut from dry, that makes you smile wryly, to genuine tears-in-the-eyes belly-laughs. It was the stand-out feature of Omer’s previous books for me, and here he does it again. The guy just has the most amazing sense of humour.

As the case builds to its climax, the pace gets faster and faster, and even though there’s nothing terribly revolutionary in the last few chapters, certainly nothing that an aficionado of the genre won’t have seen many times before, it’s done so well that it had me turning the pages in breathless anticipation. And there’s a moment at the end that just had me punching the air with delight. This is a great start to the series, and I’m looking forward to the next. A good four stars.

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YA Horror Review: ‘Moth to a Flame’ by Michael Omer

July 16, 2015 Review 0

This is the second book in the Narrowdale YA series. I’m not sure exactly which genre it falls under; I’d put it somewhere between suspense and horror, with paranormal elements. And as YA goes, it’s at the younger end, and wouldn’t be unsuitable for middle-graders, since the horror is muted, and the humour is cranked all the way up to eleven.

In fact, the opening few chapters are as funny as anything I’ve ever read anywhere, and yes, that covers Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams and Bill Bryson. Main character Amy is an absolute delight, completely swept up in her own affairs, and since the book is written in the first person, we get to share all her dippy thoughts. The collision of Amy with algebra had me crying from laughing so hard. I know humour is a personal thing, but I defy anyone not to laugh out loud reading this.
The first book in the series, ‘Sleepless’, described how fourteen-year-old Amy moved to Narrowdale with her parents, made a couple of friends, and got involved in some scary stuff. That book had a few wobbly aspects, but this one works far, far better. The characters are shown in sharper focus, the plot feels more real and the writing is beautifully smooth. And I may have mentioned the humour…

Apart from Amy, the backup team comprises Shane, the pal with the camera, Carole, the obsessive academic, and Nicole, the friend from back home who bounces in and out to jog things along. There’s also Peter, the security guy that Amy rather fancies. And now there’s Chris, Amy’s potential boyfriend (I rather like Chris, so I hope he sticks around). Even the minor characters are quite memorable, especially Carole’s mum, with her insistence on family meals together, no matter what. We all know someone like that.

The plot… well, if you’ve read the first book, you’ll know what to expect. There’s a weird murder, and a guy who’s disappeared, and Amy, as usual, is right in the thick of things, walking into murder scenes and wandering about in all sorts of odd places, finding… well, all sorts of odd things. And, as usual, the adults pat her on the head and tell her not to interfere, to leave it all to them. And does Amy listen? Of course not! That would be no fun at all.

There are a couple of very minor things to mention on the negative side. One is the use of present tense. Now this is a very personal thing, it’s very common in YA and most people probably won’t even notice, but I found myself constantly jolted by it. So that spoiled my enjoyment very slightly. The other is that this does feel very young, to me. Again, it’s a purely personal thing, and I know I’m not in the target audience for a book like this. I don’t read a lot of YA, and when I do, it tends not to be the modern-day, high school kid type of YA. I find it much easier to read when it’s (say) epic fantasy. For me, reading about Amy’s fourteen-year-old thoughts felt uncomfortably voyeuristic. Which means, of course, that the author got it exactly right, so it will be perfect for the appropriate audience. And it’s a testament to the author that he kept me hooked, even when the kids-running-rings-round-the-police element reminded me of my misbegotten childhood reading Enid Blyton’s Famous Five.

There’s one more thing that the author got exactly right, and this was a huge plus for me: he’s beginning to reveal a little more background on Narrowdale itself, and the reasons behind all the weird stuff. Now, I’m a sucker for this kind of thing. I hate it when things happen just because, and I love that frisson of excitement you get when you discover something huge about the world the story is set in. It’s why I read epic fantasy, after all, and to find it here is awesome. That alone would keep me reading, but adding in the humour, Amy’s charm and the beginning-to-be-interesting friends makes this series unmissable. Very enjoyable, with a great ending, and just a couple of personal niggles keeping it to four stars.

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YA horror review: ‘Sleepless’ by Michael Omer

April 16, 2015 Review 0

This is one of those books that I would never, ever have read if I hadn’t bumped into the author online in an author’s forum and got to know him. YA? Horror? Eek! No way… and blow me down, if it wasn’t a whole heap of fun. Who’d a thunk it?

Here’s the premise: Amy is fourteen when her parents uproot her from LA and move to dull, small-town Narrowdale. She thinks her worst problem is going to be boredom. Ha! Not a chance. Because first there are the strange dreams, where she’s being followed and there’s this odd whistling. And then… well, let’s just say that it gets a whole lot weirder after that.

Amy herself is a big part of the fun, because she’s your actual spunky heroine. Strange noises at night? Should I sneak out of the house and wander around deserted streets on my own to see what’s going on? Hell, yes! And she has an easy-come easy-go attitude to school – like, it’s boring, so why don’t I bunk off and go talk to the weird homeless guy who knows stuff? So this is bound to appeal to a certain age group who finds school somewhat less than riveting. Does anyone find school riveting? This book is probably not for you.

Better than all of this, though, is that this book made me laugh out loud more times than I could count. It’s just plain funny, and I love a book that can give me the shivers one moment and crack me up the next. A great combination. Just one warning: the punctuation is somewhat haphazard. Now my own punctuation is pretty wayward, so I’m tolerant of that and the book was enjoyable enough that it never became a hindrance. The author is getting some more editing done to improve things, so if this is a deal-breaker, hold off until things are tidied up.

A light, fun read that would work fine for middle-grade and upwards. I’m not sure where on the horror-spooky-supernatural spectrum it falls, but I didn’t find it too scary or gory. Four stars for sheer entertainment value.

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