Shadow Play by Iris Johansen
I read one of this series featuring Eve Duncan some years ago. Eve Duncan is a forensic sculptor who focuses on the reconstruction of the skulls of lost children, and I liked the idea of knowing more about this kind of reconstructive sculpting. I don't remember which book or when I read it, but the first one was published in 1998. For some reason, the book fell short for me, and this is the first book I've read by Johansen since then.
When the newest in the series was offered on NetGalley, I decided to give it another chance.
Plot: Eve is pressured by a dedicated sheriff into accepting the skull of a child for reconstruction and moving it ahead of other projects. I have to admit that, in spite of the things that bothered me, I was involved with the story.
While Shadow Play did engage me (because I wanted to know the circumstances of Jenny's murder), my opinion changed only a little from the other book I read years ago. Eve is more likable, but still not very believable. Joe Quinn is too perfect, and at every opportunity the author reminds us that he is a former Navy Seal. Once was enough; the way "Seal" worked its way into so many conversations became the equivalent of an earworm. Eve and Joe love each other. Again, over referenced. Actions are often enough and repeatedly informing the reader of the depth of their love--unnecessary. The voice of Jenny, the nine-year-old (who has evidently matured remarkably in the eight years since her death) never felt genuine. I was OK with the other-worldly communication, but wish Jenny had actually sounded like a child. Never figured out how they knew the child was nine-years-old and had been buried eight years ago so quickly.
A readable mystery, but not the kind I most enjoy.
NetGalley/St. Martin's Press
Mystery/Paranormal. Sept. 9, 2015. Print length: 336 pages.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
I was late to this one, but was not disappointed! I skimmed the many reviews available when it first came out, planning to read it eventually. By the time I actually got around to it, all that remained in my mind was computer game/treasure hunt, so I was able to read without any real knowledge of events to come.
In the near future, the world is a grim and unforgiving place where poverty abounds. OASIS, a virtual world of remarkable detail, offers an escape from the dreary reality they face each day.
When James Halliday (one of the creators of OASIS) dies, his will sets off a huge treasure hunt. Halliday's entire fortune (billions) will go to the individual who unlocks all the keys to the puzzle he leaves and discovers the Easter Egg (a secret message or item) hidden somewhere in the OASIS multi-verse. For the first five years, no one makes the scoreboard, but then Wade Watts' avatar Parzival finds the first of three keys and opens the first of three gates...and the world goes wild. As does the competition.
The fanboy aspect and the fascination with 80's films, books, music, etc. play into this novel in a huge way. The amount of 80's trivia is almost inexhaustible and will appeal to some more than others, but for those in the competition, the hope for success lies in having an encyclopedic knowledge of Halliday's 80's fascination.
There are some places where the pace slows and some of the detailed information is more enjoyable for geeks than for a novice like myself, but overall, I was fascinated by the book and the characters and had a great (and suspenseful) time reading it!
Scifi/Dystopian/Adventure. 2011. Print length: 368 pages.