Review: Broadcast by Liam Brown

9780143788065.jpgA successful YouTube star accepts the lead role in a revolutionary new online show in this science-fiction thriller.

David Callow is a self-obsessed video blogger with a solid stable of followers. He makes a living from his YouTube channel, his musings granting sponsorship deals, free gear and other rewards. Not a bad way to make a living. But his views and followers have stagnated over recent months, as new, hotter personalities encroach on his territory. David’s still a star: he’s just shining a little less brightly. Which makes the offer from Silicon Valley pioneer Xan Brinkley all the more seductive.

MindCast — Brinkley’s ingenious invention — is the next step for video blogging. By inserting a small chip into David’s skull, his every thought, feeling and memory will be streamed live, twenty-four hours a day. There will no longer be a need for him to articulate opinions; they will be played out live and on-screen, totally unfiltered. His every emotion will be displayed for public consumption. By accepting this opportunity — this gift — David is guaranteed to become a viral sensation.  Viewership in the hundreds of millions — possibly billions. He’ll make enough money to never have to do a hard day’s work in his life. David will be paid to be himself: to think and feel. He’ll do down in history as a trailblazer.

Naturally he signs up.

But as discerning readers will be screaming in their heads as David signs on the dotted line, there is a terrifying dark side to sharing your every secret with the world. There is danger in having your every thought collected and stored by a corporate entity. Particularly when that corporation is run by a man as devious as he is ambitious.

Broadcast is a suspenseful and frightening thriller, which will be lapped up by readers able and willing to suspend their disbelief. It’s a taut roller-coaster, occasionally bogged down by characters launching into verbose, windy explanations of what’s going on. Still, a couple of moments of exposition aside, it’s a breathtaking thriller, one I tore through over a couple of hours. It reminded me of last year’s Dark Matter by Blake Crouch: high concept, eminently readable, designed to be consumed quickly.

ISBN: 9780143788065
ISBN-10: 014378806X
Format: Paperback
Number Of Pages: 288
Available: 18th September 2017
Publisher: Transworld Publishers (Division of Random House Australia)
Country of Publication: AU

Review: Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami

9781911215370I’m a late Murakami convert. My first sample of his work – 2014’s Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage – inspired a marathon of Murkami madness over the next eighteenth, solidifying my adoration of his imagination and his spare, unadorned prose. It lead to the devout proclamation:  whatever Haruki Murakami writes, I will read. So when Men Without Women arrived in store, there was no pause for deliberation: I slapped my money down on the counter and slipped my copy of the short story collection into my bag. There was no doubt in my mind: my commute over the next couple of days would be a delight.

In the seven stories that comprise this collection, Murakami explores themes of adultery, friendship, alienation and sex through the perspective of emotionally isolated men. Perhaps they’re struggling in the aftermath of a faded love, unable to cope with their subsequent loneliness; perhaps they are men who’ve never experienced love, but are desperate for its touch; or men who are in love, but fear its loss, and how its annulment might ruin their lives. The women in these tales are never fully realised, almost entirely eponymous. They serve as potential saviours, or narrative devices, to demonstrate the stuntedness of the male protagonists.

Murakami’s prose is as delectable as ever, though it only serves to highlight the bleakness of most of these stories. Men Without Women is eminently readable, and rife with the author’s recurrent motifs, but lacks the sparkle, if not the general potency, of his other short stories. Of course, readers’ mileage may vary. One thing’s for certain: these are stories that beg for discussion. Add this one to your reading group list.

ISBN: 9781911215370
Format: Hardback (222mm x 144mm x 25mm)
Pages: 240
Imprint: Harvill Secker
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 9-May-2017
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Review: The Black Book by James Patterson & David Ellis

Black Book.pngThe Black Book is a tightly-plotted and pacy thriller, the likes of which we haven’t seen from the super-prolific James Patterson in many years. It’s a well-woven tale of corruption and duplicity, with engaging characters and an inventive structure.

The novel opens with Detective Patti Harney and her father, a high-ranking figure in the Chicago PD, arriving at a crime scene involving her twin brother, Detective Billy Harney. He’s been shot and left for dead in the bedroom of assistant state attorney Amy Lentini, who is herself DOA from a gunshot wound to the head, alongside Billy’s partner, Detective Kate Fenton. Which begs the questions: Who shot who? And why? It’s obviously connected to the raid Billy led into an apartment building he was certain was operating as a sex club to the Chicago elite, and to the missing black book that served as a record of everyone who had entered and exited the brownstone.

The narrative flashes backwards and forwards, to before and after the shooting, building in suspense and momentum, until the truth is revealed. Billy’s initial memory loss seems a tad cliched and convenient, but it works, and isn’t overplayed. And while veteran mystery readers might identify the true perpetrators of the crime early on in proceedings, there’s more than enough here to keep pages turning, and readers tuned in until the very end. The Black Book pulses with excitement, and with Billy Harney, James Patterson and David Ellis have created a hero worth following to hell and back.

ISBN: 9781780895321
Format: Paperback (234mm x 153mm x mm)
Pages: 448
Imprint: Century
Publisher: Cornerstone
Publish Date: 4-May-2017
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Review: The Fall by Tristan Bancks

Fall Tristan Bancks.jpgThe Fall is the kind of thriller I would’ve loved as a child and absolutely adored as an adult. It’s a sharp, contemporary crime novel with classic genre elements, and nail-biting suspense that will keep readers on the edge of their seat. It’s a page-turning masterpiece for readers young and old.

As is the case with all great crime novels, the set-up is simple. In the middle of the night, Sam — son of irascible crime reporter Harry — is woken by angry voices from the apartment above. He edges to the window, to check the scene above, and sees a body fall from the sixth-floor balcony. When Sam goes to wake his father, he discovers Harry is gone. And when Sam gets downstairs, the body has vanished.  But Sam knows what he saw — and worse for him, somebody else knows what he witnessed. Someone who wants Sam silenced at any cost.

The Fall is a pulse-pounding thriller with the heart and soul so often missing from its contemporaries. The strained relationship between Sam and Harry — and indeed Sam and his mother — is truly evocative, and adds a powerful emotional layer to proceedings; but never at the expense of the plot’s raw pace, which rips along phenomenally.

Tristan Bancks has concocted a thriller that has everything you could ask for – a twisty plot, memorable characters, and plenty of action. If there’s a child in your life who has been glancing at the line of Michael Connelly novels on your shelf, or skimming through your Raymond Chandler collection, put a copy of The Fall in their hands.

ISBN: 9780143783053
Format: Paperback
Pages: 288
Imprint: Random House Australia Children’s Books
Publisher: Random House Australia
Publish Date: 29-May-2017
Country of Publication: Australia