Calvin Cross is a successful and loyal officer in Intel Wing, the Empire’s intelligence organisation. He is so good that he has been given his own command, the stealth frigate Nighthawk, despite the fact that he is only a half-citizen and therefore stuck at a junior officer rank. His latest mission has been to track down rogue warship captain Raidan who used his position to destroy civilian alien freighters without provocation. Raidan is tried by a tribunal and found guilty, but his motives remain unknown. The prisoner escapes under suspicious circumstances—hijacking a dreadnought in the process—and Cross is again ordered to find him. Cross suspects foul play as several facts do not add up and decides to investigate the underlying situation rather than hunting down the fugitive. While he tries to keep up appearances his mysterious opponents act to stop Cross and his crew no matter what.
Phoenix Conspiracy has a solid, but not brilliant setup. The futuristic world is very similar to ours despite the fact that humanity travels across space; culture and technology appear unchanged for the most part. It works well enough for this kind of story as the reader feels comfortable from page one and can completely focus on the intriguing plot. The conspiracy is nicely set up and the characters are likeable yet complex enough to feel real, including heart-felt emotion and sometimes funny, sometimes nerve-wracking conflicts. Only the ending seemed a bit too hasty and shallow for my taste; but then, this is only part one of a series so I will give Sanders the benefit of doubt, assuming the rabbit hole is deeper than it seems. Phoenix Conspiracy managed to captivate me and I had a good time reading it. I certainly look forward to the sequels!
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Harvey Barker is on a revenge trip in modern London, killing the people he holds responsible for his sister’s death. He is a professional assassin, but an unorthodox one: he kills using feng shui, manipulating chi and karma to kill his targets without anyone the wiser. But he is not careful enough this time. Detective Amanda Morgan can not shake the feeling that a couple of apparently tragic deaths are connected. Meanwhile, the remaining members of the group Harvey hunts down try to recover and strike back.
I needed to suspend a lot of disbelief regarding the manipulation of chi and karma. The concept seems confused at times, but experienced manga readers should have no problems accepting it. Hall’s prose is not perfect but good enough so it does not distract from his decent story. He builds a good amount of tension towards the end, finishing a very entertaining and thrilling book.
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I don’t want to kill you is the third book of Dan Well’s John Cleaver series. After John kills the demon in Mr Monster, he calls another one, called Nobody, on its cell and declares he is going to kill it, too. In the following weeks, John waits for Nobody who, he is sure, is going to come for him. Eagerly awaiting the hunt, John has problems keeping Mr Monster contained. But before long, the killings starts again! John starts investigating together with his fellow student Marci who is intrigued by John and approaches him after Brooke distances herself.
The book is, of course, similar in style to its predecessors. It is a worthy finale with a great ending John progresses a lot in terms of emotions and social skills, mostly because of his attachment to “his” girls.
In fact, he has come a long way since book one. There, he emphasises with the demon, understands its need to kill and almost regrets stopping it. He still feels connected to the demon in book two but is revolted by its actual deeds. Now, by the end of book three, he wants to stop the demon at all cost. Also, he has come from wanting to kill but making himself not to not wanting to kill but forcing himself to do what is necessary.
It is a good thing Wells ends this format after three books; the (quite simple, if ingenious) concept is not really suitable for a longer series, especially as long as so much about the demons’ origin is left in the dark. From where John stands now, I can see a more complex format work, maybe dealing with an adult John who hunts demons for the FBI. What about it, Mr Wells?
Mr Monster by Dan Wells is sequel to I Am Not A Serial Killer, a refreshing young-adult-marketed thriller from 2009. Main character and first-person narrator is John Cleaver, a teenage boy who is diagnosed with sociopathy and very aware of himself being a danger for his peers. He is fascinated by serial killers and knows almost every publically available detail about associated psychology and forensics. John is aware his own urge to hurt and even kill humans so he has constructed a set of strict rules that are supposed to keep him from killing—rules he had to break in I Am Not A Serial Killer in order to stop a practising killer.
Some months later, John struggles to keep his dark side suppressed. Having let him out and feel freedom once, this is increasingly hard. It does not help that he becomes closer with Brooke, the neighbour girl he has a twisted crush on and who has taken an interest in him; there are even rules against watching girls and thinking about them too much! In addition, John’s broken family adds to the building emotional stress, with no therapist to help him deal with it. In this situation, a new series of killings starts. John is certain that another demon has to be responsible and now faces a choice: should he get involved and risk falling entirely for his inner demons or should he stand by in order to save himself? Read more »