Sunday, 20 July 2014

Book: The Nightmare Place by Steve Mosby

Detective Inspector Zoe Dolan is experiencing a recurring dream that gives her the strange feeling that something awful is coming. This is happening while she is working on a troubling case. There is a rapist on the loose who stalks women and then attacks them in their own home, he is known as The Creeper.

Steve Mosby’s latest sinister crime story grips from the chilling first chapter until the last. As well as the ongoing investigation we have a dispute between neighbours and a volunteer helpline worker who soon regrets doing the right thing.

Short  chapters make this a quick easy read which is over all too soon. A real pity as Mosby isn’t the most prolific of writers.

For more information on the author and his work visit and click on the Steve Mosby label below for more reviews and an interview.

Ric’s Rating: Highly Recommended.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Film: Elysium

In the near future wealthy people no longer live on Earth. They life a blissful life on a space station known as Elysium. Thanks to the latest technology there is no illness on Elysium as all known diseases and conditions can be repaired.

Back on Earth factory worker Max (Matt Damon) receives a fatal dose of radiation and decides that he must get to Elysium to save himself. Along the way he meets up with old friend Frey (alice Braga) and her leukaemia suffering daughter who also needs the healing technology.

In their way is a ruthless politician (Jodie Foster) and a crazy enforcer (Sharlto Copley) who do not plan on allowing any poor person access to the potentially life saving equipment.

Damon turns in another competent action turn and Foster is fine as the nasty and ambitious politician but it’s District 9’s Sharlto Copley that steals the show as he revels in the brutality of Kruger, a man with his own ideas on how Elysium should be governed.

Ric’s Rating: Good.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Book: Field Of Prey by John Sandford

You wouldn’t think that it would be possible that the 24th book of an ongoing series would be one of the best but that’s exactly what Field Of Prey by John Sandford is.

A young couple make a gruesome discovery and the hero of the Prey series, Lucas Davenport, is soon on the case. Aided by a local sheriff’s deputy Davenport must track down a killer responsible for the deaths of many young women as well as a colleague of his.

This is gripping stuff from start to finish and Davenport is back to his dangerous best as he throws protocol aside in the race to catch up with one of his most formidable foes yet.

As with all ongoing series I’d recommend starting at the beginning but Field Of Prey also works as an entry point to the series or a one off.

For more reviews of John Sandford books click the tab below.

Ric’s Rating: Essential. 

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Film: X Men: Days Of Future Past

In the near future there are hardly any X-Men left. They, along with all other mutants, have been relentlessly hunted down by the Government endorsed android killing machines known as Sentinels.

On the brink of extinction Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) decide to use the time travelling abilities of Pryde to travel back and attempt to stop the Sentinels before they are even invented. For a time trip that could potentially rip anyone’s body and mind apart there is only one candidate, the quick-healing Wolverine (Hugh Jackman).

Wolverine must convince the younger Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) to work together to stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) trigger a chain of events leading to the war against the Sentinels.

This collaboration of X-Men franchises from original director Bryan Singer gets off to a blistering start as the remaining X-Men battle the Sentinels in a fantastic, super-power laden, fight scene. However, when we join Wolverine on his trip back to 1973 the pace slows considerably. The highlight of the whole 1973 story (which makes up the majority of the film) is the Magneto prison break featuring a stand out performance from Even Peters as Quicksilver. Jennifer Lawrence also makes up for the omission of original blue beauty Rebecca Romijn-Stamos as Mystique with an action packed and emotional turn.

Huge credit must be given for this ultimate X-Men film which successfully meshes all previous films but more action was required for it to be as exciting and fun as the likes of Avengers Assemble or Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

X-Men: Days Of Future Past simply left me wanting more, maybe that was the plan.

Catch it in cinemas now.

Ric’s Rating: Good.        

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Book: Wolf by Mo Hayder

DI Jack Caffery returns and this time he’s off duty.

Jaded and disgruntled by his workload Caffery decides to take some time out, much to the chagrin of his superiors. This sabbatical will be spent finding out what became of his brother Ewan, who vanished when they were both children.

In order to progress his private investigation Caffery must first solve the puzzle of a lost dog that carries a note which simply says “help us”. The case of the little dog takes Caffery on a journey to trace her owners and find out if they really do need help.

The family are caught up in a hostage situation which unfolds alongside Caffery’s investigation and you are urging him on each step of the way as he slowly gets closer to them. But will he make it in time?

Wolf is another top notch thriller from Mo Hayder and assuming she continues with the series I can’t wait to find out what’s next for her captivating main character.

Ric’s rating: Highly Recommended.      

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Film: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

In Marvel’s latest adventure we catch up with Steve Rogers aka Captain America as he attempts to capture a band of modern day pirates. Aided by Black Widow the Captain leads a group of soldiers against the bad guys who include George St.Pierre of UFC fame.

Rogers (Chris Evans) then learns of the development of huge flying gunships being developed by SHIELD that have the capability of targeting any person on Earth. Bear in mind that the Captain is a very patriotic American (hence the name) so he doesn’t approve of anything that infringes on personal freedom.

To say more about the story would give away too much so I’ll concentrate on the film itself. Playing to the man out of time storyline (Captain America was a WWII soldier who was frozen then reanimated) this manages to bring emotion to what is otherwise an epic action movie. Think Terminator 2 and you’re in the vicinity. The shoot-outs and fight scenes are wonderfully extravagant (look out for ole Cap vs a fighter jet) and although there are super-hero elements on show here this manages to transcend the genre pigeon-hole.

Evans is fine as the straight-laced Rogers and there is excellent support from Samuel L Jackson, Scarlett Johansson and Frank Grillo to name but a few.

If you think they couldn’t top Avengers or that super-hero films aren’t for you I urge you to think again and catch Captain America: The Winter Soldier while it’s on the big screen.

Ric’s Rating: Essential

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Book: Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer

Patrick Fort has Asperger’s Syndrome so he sees the world around him a bit differently than most people do. When his father is the victim of a hit & run Patrick decides to try to understand death. This leads him to an anatomy class where the dissection of a human body focuses Patrick’s mind on the cause of death and he doesn’t believe the cause listed here.

Meanwhile a recovering coma patient makes a startling discovery but struggles to communicate with anyone in a position to act on the information he has.

Belinda Bauer again manages to absorb the reader into a fascinating murder story woven around a coming-of-age tale featuring a brilliant main character who overcomes many obstacles in both the investigation he begins and the awkwardness of teenage life.

Ric’s Rating: Highly Recommended.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Film: Big Bad Wolves

A meek schoolteacher emerges as the main suspect in a series of grisly child murders in this black comedy from Israel.

Following a run-in with local police the schoolteacher is freed and the cop on the case finds himself suspended. Convinced he has the right man the cop decides to kidnap the suspect but soon has to co-operate with the Father of a murdered girl who is out for revenge.

The duo take the suspect to a remote house for interrogation but things don’t go as planned when the grieving Father becomes the subject of his own elderly parents’ attention.

This film features the harrowing subject of child abduction and murder but amazingly manages to be hilarious at the same time, without detracting from the serious nature of the issue. The introduction of the Grandad adds much to the comedy element, bringing real-life family dynamics into a potentially lethal situation.

Funny and disturbing in equal measures, it’s easy to see why Big Bad Wolves was called the film of 2013 by none other than Quinten Tarantino and a US remake is no doubt inevitable.

Do yourself a favour and see the original before that happens.

Big Bad Wolves is available on DVD in the UK from 28th April 2014.

Ric’s Rating: Essential.    

Film: Riddick

Vin Diesel returns as Richard B Riddick, the anti-hero from Pitch Black, in the third instalment of this sci-fi action series.

This time around we join Riddick on an unknown planet populated by various types of lethal creatures that see him as their prey. As the daily struggle for survival continues two rival sets of mercenaries turn up looking to claim the bounty for the notorious criminal, and it’s doubled if he’d dead.

Pitch Black was a fantastic film, a low budget but effects laden sci-fi adventure that gave Diesel the opportunity to be at his snarling best. The sequel, The Chronicles Of Riddick, was largely forgettable.

Unfortunately that is also the case here as Riddick sets about dispatching the mercenaries one by one without any great action scenes or real moments of tension. I also have little doubt that the budget for this film was substantially larger than that of the original but it manages to look much worse. The scenes involving the motorcycle/hovercrafts are reminiscent of old time films with actors sitting in cars while the same background is repeated again and again.

Riddick is available on DVD now but only die hard fans of the character will enjoy.

Ric’s Rating: Dodgy. 

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Book: Poppet by Mo Hayder

DI Jack Caffrey investigates the bizarre goings on at a local Mental Hospital while also attempting to find closure for the troubled Mother of a missing young woman in the latest thriller from Mo Hayder.

Some years ago I read Hayder’s fantastic debut book, Birdman, which was closely followed by The Treatment. Those books lived long in the memory as they effortlessly combined a surreal feeling of horror with repulsion at the criminal acts described within their pages. The books also introduced the character of Jack Caffrey, a police officer haunted by the disappearance of his Brother when they were both children.

Much to my surprise Hayder’s next novel did not feature Caffrey, and neither did the next. Cafferey eventually reappeared in 2008’s Ritual but I hadn’t got round to catching up with him….until now.

Having long left events of the first two books behind we join Caffrey in Bristol, where reports of strange sightings of a figure known as The Maude followed by some particularly nasty incidents bring a concerned Mental Health Nurse to his office.

Can Caffrey get to the bottom of the mysterious sightings and will colleague Flea Marley tell him what happened to that missing girl?

Having read this sixth instalment of the Jack Caffrey series I now can’t wait to get my hands on the ones I missed. The author yet again manages to create a truly eerie atmosphere, the type of which is usually only found in quality horror novels, and combine it with fascinatingly macabre crime scenes. Throw in an interesting and complex cast of characters and you have a novel that will appeal to both crime and horror fans despite having a rather predictable twist.

Poppet is available everywhere now.

Ric’s Rating: Highly Recommended.  

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Film: The Seasoning House

During the Balkans war of the early-mid nineties a young deaf / mute girl is taken from her home and after witnessing the murder of her Mother she is moved on to a house used for prostitution.

Evil pimp Victor is attracted to her silence and decided to appoint her special duties which include administering drugs to the other girls, general housekeeping and of course being available for Victor whenever he wishes.

Things change when another of the girls begins to communicate through sign language and the soldiers who killed her Mother turn up.

A violent quest for revenge follows which features some particularly vicious scenes.

The Seasoning House adequately presents the feeling of hopelessness and defeat that the captured girls feel as well as the brutality of both their customers and their benefactor but despite the almost overwhelming gloom this remains compulsive viewing.

Fans of Hostel and Saw will enjoy.

Ric’s Rating: Good

Book: The Survivor by Sean Slater

It’s Detective Jacob Striker’s first day back on the job following stress leave and what a day it turns out to be. He gets called into the office of his Daughter’s school to discuss her absenteeism and while he’s there a massacre takes place. For the first time ever Striker is glad his daughter has skipped school! After the shoot-out Striker and his partner peruse a fleeing gunman but do not manage to capture him.

After starting with a literal bang this cop v killer tale descends into an onslaught of clichés. The author seems to have taken elements from all the police procedurals he’s read and tried to include them here.

We have the depressed rebellious cop who only takes shit from his equally rebellious daughter and one of the things she rebels against is his affair with his partner!

The Survivor had plenty of promise and I usually don’t mind stereotypical characters but I just didn’t like this main character enough to see past it all. 100 odd pages were enough.

Ric’s Rating: Abandoned.