Fury On Sunday - Richard Matheson

***** Short but intense

This short novel is the crazy race of a character who in a few hours succeeds in destroying what remains of his life. Convinced that he was robbed of the woman he loves, he escapes from the asylum, where he is detained for killing his father, and in which he is also victim of abuse, to “save her”. But that woman never shared his feelings. It’s all a creation of his mind.
And the book represents a journey first of all in the mind of the protagonist, the discovery of how madness is generated, and the way it drives him to act.
Even this time, Matheson amazes me with a story completely different from his previous ones. Through the points of view of the five main characters, through the personal way in which each one of them interprets the story, one layer at a time the plot details are revealed. The tone of the whole novel is dramatic, dotted with violence and death. As a reader, I was worried about the fate of the victims, but also of the crazy protagonist, who is in his own way a victim capable of eliciting pity.
The choice of who kills and who survives in the end is not random. Along with the sinking of the protagonist into his delirium, the rise of another character and the redemption of the last victim are revealed.

Fury on Sunday on Amazon.

Dark Places - Gillian Flynn

**** Too many unfortunate coincidences

This novel is characterised by an intricate plot, which the author has been able to handle with care and attention. The many threads are then joined in the end.
The transition between the two timelines is always intelligently done, keeping the reader glued to the book. That’s why I was looking forward to reading it before sleeping.
Perhaps the pace with which the story develops is a little slow and it made me a bit too eager to go further to know what would happen. I could not tie up with the character of the narrator (Libby), but I really liked that of her brother, even though it had moments of unjustified inconsistency.
In my opinion, the main problem of this novel is the presence of excessive coincidences, bad luck and mischief. Too many, all concentrated in a single day.

Moreover the ending is under tone. Once clarified what has happened, the author stops showing and begins to tell, as if she was looking forward to close the book. This left me with a sour taste in my mouth.

Dark Places on Amazon.

Normal - Graeme Cameron

**** Betrayed by the ending

The story of this novel is original and full of twists. It somehow reminds me the Dexter series, but the British touch is evident in the way of thinking, talking, and acting of the main character (but also of the others) ... and in the impressive number of teas being prepared!
The look and the name of the protagonist are never mentioned in the text, leaving the reader free to imagine him as they prefer. Despite the fact that you are dealing with a person who kills in cold blood to satisfy his own impulses, the author makes you identify so much in his mind that, after the initial estrangement, you end up being a fan of his, especially when he meets Rachel and loses control of his distorted world due to the fact that he has fallen in love.
For 90% of the book, the author literally laughs at the adventures of a serial killer and then eventually everything collapses. The author covers himself, making the character say that fairies have happy endings, but things are different in real life. Oh no! I wasn’t reading a real-life report, but fiction. In real life I would never sympathise with a serial killer and laugh of his crimes. And therefore, for consistency, I was expecting the same surreal look and a conclusion that did not fall into “normality”, but that, with another twist that I could never foresee, left me with a smile. Instead, the story becomes melodramatic and comes to a foreseeable ending in a realistic context, an ending I feared would come since when I read the book description and decided to read it anyway, yet I was hoping to be wrong.
Too bad, because the author didn’t want to or didn’t know how to dare and unfortunately eventually the appreciation of a book by the reader depends precisely on the fact that they find an ending worthy of the rest of the story.
I gave it four stars, although I didn’t like the ending, because it kept me glued to the e-reader until I finished it, because it made me laugh so much, because it is really well written and the author’s style is really engaging, and because I loved the protagonist madly until the end.

Normal on Amazon.

The Concrete Blonde - Michael Connelly

***** Less original than the previous ones, but technically perfect

This third novel in the Bosch series is so far the one I liked the most. Although it is apparently more straightforward than the previous ones (which I usually do not like), the author played his cards very well.
Finally we find out about the event that represented the character’s genesis: the fact that he killed a disarmed man, thinking the latter was about to pull out a gun. The man in question was nothing more than a serial killer, but Bosch had acted without calling the backup and for this reason he had been demoted in his police job.
Four years later, while Bosch is under civil lawsuit for that killing, by the serial killer family, a new homicide comes up carrying the same signature, but it had occurred later.
Has Bosch killed the wrong man? Or is this an emulator?
The story takes place between court and case resolution. This is a pretty conventional serial killer case, where the killer is one of the characters in the story and needs to be identified. The author tries to take you in many wrong directions. It would all be easy (or almost) if there was no trial in the middle that distracts you and makes you change perspective.
This novel is not as original as the two previous ones but is technically perfect and, unlike the previous ones, also gives the reader the little satisfaction of having the elements to understand in advance who the killer is. That doesn’t mean the reader is bound to succeed, though.
In this context the private aspect of the protagonist’s story continues to develop, which remains central in the plot of the book and is likely to have dramatic implications. 
The reassuring ending seems like the prelude to a new storm.

Central Park - Guillaume Musso

** A fake thriller

This book is not yet available in English, but you can find it in other languages, including Italian, Spanish, German, Greek, Dutch, Russian and many more, and of course in French.

I found this book beautiful until approx. 80%. It was characterised by an intricate story, a succession of twists, and continuous action.
But I noticed: Alice was too much over the top; Gabriel obviously hid something and strangely she did not realise it, or when she did, she was ready to believe his next explanation without asking too much questions; it did not make sense that Alice would not go to the police; in retrospect (knowing the ending) it was even absurd that they decided to steal a mobile phone and a car, and that they got away with it; the story of the date in the watch had made me realise right away that there was something wrong with the timing.
More things I didn’t like, because they gave the idea of ​​being planned arbitrarily, were the transition to flashbacks with the ‘I remember’ introduction and the habit of breaking the scene at the end of a chapter and get it back in the following one. The latter is really a mean trick to push the reader to continue reading and creates dissatisfaction if what the reader wants to do is to stop their reading (you cannot spend all day reading).
In spite of all, I thought I was reading a crime thriller and I expected that in the end the author would bring together the threads, making it at least plausible.
How wrong I was!
In the ending part, the novel implodes.
My suspension of unbelief slipped inexorably until it escaped me, even my judgment dropped from 5 to 3 stars in a few pages. The explanation that the author decides to give about the events is totally improbable. I don’t want to go into detail to avoid too many spoilers, but I can at least say that there isn’t any reason why the male protagonist (Gabriel) should’ve come to do all that he did to get what he wanted. He could do it in a lot easier way. It seems he made it precisely to create a story invented for the benefit of readers. Only you should never come to think of this about a character. If you do, it means that the reader no longer has the illusion that somehow the story might really happen.
In other words, the assumption on which the whole novel is based is not plausible.
Moreover, the epilogue is terrible and this is why my judgment collapsed to 2 stars (it didn’t drop to 1 because, if anything, the book is well written and seems well translated in my language). During the ending I really thought the author had gone mad.
[Warning: spoilers ahead.]
The story ends with the most incredible of romantic endings, without the slightest clue being given in the rest of the book. It comes out of blue, without a reason, without you noticing the slightest emotional connection between the protagonists in the novel.
To make things even worse there are those final lines, along with Gabriel’s long monologue placed on a separate page, halfway through which I just scrolled to get to the end.
[End of spoilers.]
In short, if you want to read a crime thriller, read something else.
One could attribute a new genre to this book: fake thriller.

Red Mist - Patricia Cornwell

***** Great crime thriller despite some lack in originality compared to the previous ones in the series

Recently Cornwell is taking the insane habit of killing a recurring character in each book, or at least this is what happened in the last two I read. I hope she will calm down, otherwise there won’t be many of them in the future!
But let’s talk about the book.
It starts with a very slow pace in the first part, so that the first corpse arrives very late. I still liked the way the author builds the whole story from Scarpetta’s point of view, exploiting the dialogues with other people, and wrap it out in just over a day.
In my opinion, however, the choice of this approach in this novel presents two problems. The first is that for much of the book, which is long enough, there are only her and a few other characters, making the development of the plot even more static. Fortunately there is Marino, but Lucy and Benton come late and seem almost insignificant in the story. The second is that Cornwell used a very similar structure in the previous book, so it feels that the latter lacks originality.
On the other hand, I do not mind at all that the case is closely related to the previous book, since it gives continuity to the sub-plots, which therefore become prevalent. This makes the book accessible only by those who have read at least the preceding one, but in this way the continuous explanations related to it become useless and contribute to the slowness of the book.
It is very difficult if not impossible to understand the identity of the culprit. In the aftermath, you realize some details that could be noticed by the reader, only that they are lost in a bunch of information Cornwell puts in her books, most of which does not have a real significance in the plot’s economy.
However, I found the scientific element used to explain the murders very interesting. A biologist like me could not help but appreciate it!
Even this time the final resolution fooled me. It comes in a single paragraph, indeed in a single period. In the hurry to know what would happen, I did not read the last clause and then in the next paragraph I found that the culprit had been hit, but I had not noticed that. For the umpteenth time I had to go back and re-read. There is nothing to do: it always happens like this.
The final chapter of the epilogue serves only to unite all the points and knocks back the rhythm that was created, leading to a conclusion without infamy and without praise.
You would ask why I gave 5 stars despite all these flaws. Well, because, taken individually, this is a well-constructed and well written book (though I don’t like some of Cornwell’s stylistic choices, but I appreciate her consistency in using them). Certainly it would have had a greater impact on me, if the former did not present a similar structure.
I know Cornwell prefers to write in first person from Scarpetta’s point of view. I admit, however, that I prefer her books written in third person, because the stories are more open and less static, and because this way she has the opportunity to explore views other than those of Kay Scarpetta, who - let’s say it - is not exactly the most pleasant person!

Red Mist on Amazon.

The Bloody Wedding - Stefania Mattana

***** The witness you don’t expect

In this short story, Stefania Mattana puts aside her cosy mysteries, but not the town where they are set, Tursenia, which this time hosts no less than Raffaello Sanzio during the creation of Pala Baglioni.
The one telling us about this story is an unlikely witness: the canvas.
While the painter works on it, the canvas sees and listens to Raffaello’s and Donna Atalanta’s conversations, revealing to the reader the dramatic events of the Bloody Wedding.
The author succeeds in entering the historical context, thanks to the use of a high register that imitates the talk of the time without exaggerating. At the same time this register highlights how the narrating voice, although being a painting created in 1500, still exists, has been witnessing the passing of centuries, and as a result, the way it speaks to the reader has evolved.
The ending of this little pearl by Mattana connects to her previous works and leaves you with a smile.

The Bloody Wedding on Amazon.

Someone Is Bleeding - Richard Matheson

**** Enjoyable noir

With this book I started reading the noir trilogy by Richard Matheson, which deviates a lot from his subsequent production related to speculation fiction.
“Someone Is Bleeding” is a short novel characterised by the vintage charm of noir (actually it was originally published in 1953).
Some parts are perhaps a bit hasty, even if, all things considered, there was no need to dwell much in them.
As often happens in his books, we have the usual male protagonist in trouble, who is brave but a little weak.
The plot itself is not intricate, but events happen so quickly that you have no time to think. What you really don’t understand is what the characters do in their life. The protagonist is a writer, but you never see him writing throughout the story.
The ending is not predictable, although in part the reader can get to figure out who the culprit is.
The prose is excellent, as always.

The Nano Flower - Peter F. Hamilton

**** Perfectly built, but too calculated and cold towards the ending

I liked this novel very much, until I came to the last part on New London, of which I am not really able to digest the conclusion. And this inevitably has a negative influence on my overall judgment.
As always Hamilton is a master at managing complex plots in an elaborate backdrop and make many well developed characters interact in it. In this sense, “The Nano Flower” is the link between its first production set on Earth in the near future and the space opera of his later books.
Although the series is known as the Greg Mandel trilogy, Mandel has a secondary role in this book, as he is on stage as much as the other characters, or even less than them. I must say this disappointed me a bit, because I really like this character, who in the previous books was undoubtedly the hero, and I expected at least a most decisive role of him in the resolution of the story, which however didn’t happen. The cornerstone of this novel is no doubt Julia Evans, although she cannot be considered the protagonist either. More simply it can be called a choral novel.
Less investigative than the previous ones, which is not necessarily positive, and more imaginative, although longer, this book is more fast-paced and engaging than them, thanks to the always excellent prose of Hamilton.
I would have given five stars, but I found the whole story of Royan, including the ending, quite depressing. I could not, in any way, like his selfish choices towards his family. His motives still don’t make sense to me. And likewise I found Julia too cold in reacting to the dramatic conclusion of the story of this character. I felt, in the behaviour of both, something deeply wrong in terms of human emotions, which gave me the feeling that the ending was almost worked out in the cold, without any involvement, losing all contact with the humanity of the characters. And all this clashes with the way Hamilton had dug up to that point in their mind and psychology.
I also have difficulty to consider credible that a character as powerful as Julia Evans really cares so much for the good of mankind and secondarily for her interests. It is unrealistic to say the least, especially when compared with the far from rosy future that is described in this trilogy.

Both aspects have caused my suspension of disbelief to collapse. What a pity.

The Nano Flower on Amazon.

Sycamore Row - John Grisham

***** A secret guarded by sycamores

This novel by Grisham, despite being set in the same place and having the same protagonist of “A Time to Kill,” is not a real sequel to it, and can be read without knowing the story of the first one, of which just a few mentions are made, only where necessary.
The theme is the same, namely that of racism. This time Jack Brigance, a lawyer in Ford County, a county in the southern United States where racism was still a major problem thirty years ago (and I suppose it still is), is grappling with a holographic will written by a wealthy white man that, before committing suicide (he was dying of cancer), decides to disinherit his children and leave 90% of his assets, 24 million dollars, to his black maid. This gives rise to a legal battle to contest the will.
I loved, as always, the characterization of the characters, both main and secondary ones, and the reconstruction of the setting (Ford County in the 80’s). Add to this the usual skill of Grisham in telling the many tricks behind the preparation of a law suit capable of doing much fanfare.
While the disinherited children go to great lengths to accuse Lettie of captation (i.e. of pushing the man to change his will, taking advantage of his condition, so that he left everything to her), no one seems to wonder why he did it, what is below his action.
And so, quietly, a subplot unravels that leads to the truth, and that is related to the title.
This is a story of something that could really have happened, strikingly realistic. It’s a story that fascinates and leaves a smile at its epilogue.

I have only one negative note to report. I love the way Grisham wants you to enter the setting, even by telling all legal mechanisms and details about the characters. In this book, though, I had the impression that the info-dump was really a bit excessive or otherwise told in a little engaging way.

Sycamore Row on Amazon.