The Hand That Feeds You – A J Rich

Published January 3, 2016 by Lucidity23

A J Rich is a marriage of authors – Jill Ciment and Amy Hempel, I must say I’ve never read any of their work before, and I usually avoid collaborations at all costs.

The thriller here follows Morgan Prager, a student almost at the end of her thesis on victim psychology, a little arrogant in her pursuit of her status and lifestyle whose life falls around her when she returns home to find her fiancé decapitated and her 3 dogs – a Great Pyrenees and two Pitbulls covered in  the blood. 

As Morgan grieves her loss, she begins to find out that her Partner was not all he seemed, and she cannot locate any relatives to let them know of his unfortunate demise.

This format is a tried and tested model – better left to the experts like Harlan Coben. Whilst the methods Morgan follows are believable and the story interesting, they are over-shadowed by the fact she is more concerned about her dogs, how attractive her lawyer is, and whether she’s eaten meat or not – hardly the grieving lover.

The character comes across as somewhat arrogant and eager to ram down your throat how much status her work in psychology gives her.

The start of the book is somewhat clumsy in format, there is sometimes a slow urgency to the story, followed by random flashbacks that don’t forward the story in anyway. I guess this is what happens when two minds meld into one novel.

But saying that, I couldn’t put this down. I started it in the morning of one day and ended it at 1 am the next – maybe it’s the animal lover in me – I was eager to see justice for the mutts.

I think I can stretch to a 7/10 for this one – the self-righteous vegan that thinks it is okay to house 3 large dogs in a 1 bedroom Brooklyn Apartment isn’t too bad – a good read for a rainy day.

L23

 

Die Again – Tess Gerritsen

Published January 3, 2016 by Lucidity23

Rizzoli and Isles are reunited in another of Gerritsen’s gripping thrillers… or is it?

Die Again follows the tenacious Detective following the trail of a killer that chooses to hang and gut their victims, like a hunter and his prey.

Whilst in Boston Rizzoli and Isle are searching for the killer, the story jumps intermittently into the past, 6 years ago in Botwana to the narrative of Millie Debruin who whilst on Safari, sees her camp mates picked off one by one by possibly the same culprit.

Whilst ordinarily in these books I find myself wanting to return to the present to find out more about the case, in this one, I was pulled back to Botswana each time – where everything seemed much more exciting than the investigation in Boston.

It feels as though Gerritsen is using the same tired lines to describe Rizzoli’s strained relationship with her crew (surely she’s learned the art of diplomacy by now?) and Isles is losing her “Queen of the Dead” vibe and settling for “Queen of the Whine” in this book.

I hope the weaknesses of this book are a one off and not the end of the franchise, as I have thoroughly adored Rizzoli and Isles, I would hate for them to be picked off the best sellers lists and sacrificed to the Bargain Bins.

6/10

L23

Daddy’s Home

Published January 3, 2016 by Lucidity23

Daddy’s Home is the latest marriage of Will Ferrell and Mark Whalberg. Sean Anders directs this laughable comedy that follows Brad Whitaker, (Ferrell) a weak and limp character in every sense of the word, after finally winning the love and affection of his step-children, embarking in a “dad-off” with the kids real and absentee father (Whalberg) who decides to finally swing by.

Cue the rubbish accidents and the bad jokes.

I’m kind of disappointed with this one, maybe it is the lack of actually funny jokes or following how good “The Other Guys” was maybe I was expecting more.

Whalberg does take his top off, which is nice but his character is some damn unlike-able and it happens so many times that even the women in the audience will be going “yeah-and?”

I think the only funny guy in this one is a character called “Griff” played by Hannibal Buress, a handyman that moves in with the family – huh?

Sara the “woman caught in the middle” is played by a rather bored looking Linda Cardellini who acts as though she can’t remember why she took this gig or how much she is getting paid for it again.

If you can sit through the rubbish, the last ten minutes are kinda funny – but the rest is very weak comedy at best.

Guys – stick to what you know – crap cops

3/10

L23

Bridge Of Spies

Published January 3, 2016 by Lucidity23

A rather poignant film to come out during these difficult times. Bridge of Spies is based on a true story of an insurance lawyer (played by Tom Hanks) recruited during the cold war to defend and ultimately negotiate the trade of spies during the late 1950s.

Rudolph Abel (Mark Rylance) is arrested for espionage in Brooklyn and the CIA recruits the unwilling James B Donovan (Hanks) to represent him in  court, a man with an excellent understanding of the law and semantics. 

As the trial comes to a close we see an American Spy Pilot’s plane shot down whilst flying over the Soviet Union.

What follows is a complex and nail biting exchange as Donovan is sent to the USSR to unofficially negotiate the trade of the two men, and, a third young student who gets caught in the cross wire.

It is a very difficult story to follow due to the intense politics involved in Europe at the time however any History student would lash getting caught up in this tale and it did inspire me to do some digging!

Hanks does his usual work of being the upstanding citizen with the outstanding moral compass, not dissimilar to his Professor Langdon. And it is not hard to feel sorry for Abel.

This film shows us once again that wars are not always made up of weapons and shields, they are made up of people, families and a lot of grey matter.

Definitely worth a watch if you can keep up with this one, it leaves a miraculous sense of warmth and a desire to do “the right thing”

8/10

L23

Review: Black Mass (2015)

Published December 4, 2015 by Lucidity23

Scott Cooper directs a barely recognisable Johnny Depp in this crime biography of the Southie crime lord Jimmy “Whitey” Bulger.

Black Mass reminds me of the films we saw in the 80s and 90s, depicting crime lords such as Al Pacino or Robert DeNiro as the villains we hate to love.

However the difference with this film is… just as you are about to start caring about what happens to Bulger, he cranks up the tension and psychopathy which is further intensified by the reminder that this guy genuinely exists!

For those of us that hadn’t heard of Bulger prior to the creation of this film – Whitey was originally a small time bad guy in South Boston that grew up in the 70s. He was approached by the FBI and asked to become and informant for them in return for a certain amount of “immunity”.

The film takes us through the years he served as an informant and how his life (and the lives of those around him) were affected.

One of the most interesting facts about Bulger is that his brother was a senator – loved by the society. Cumberbatch plays the Senator with the same rod straight back he plays everything – without much emotion – but in  this case it kinda works. Two brothers – grown up in the same house – with opposite stance points on the law – each pretending to ignore the others’ “business”.

I’d like to think that this could be an award winner for both Cooper and Depp. The gritty Boston backdrop gives this film the rough vibe it needed to show us the dark underbelly of the crime world. There are some genuinely scary moments with us hanging on Depp’s every word as he terrifies the people around him – brace yourself for the dinner scene!

Definitely one to watch this winter if you love the old gangster flicks.

9/10

Lucidity23

Hardy’s Legend Continues…

Published September 13, 2015 by Lucidity23

It seems Tom Hardy can do no wrong these days: Following on from his excellent performance in the title role in Mad Max: Fury Road and as the mild mannered “Bob” in The Drop, Hardy takes on dual roles of the East End gangsters The Krays in Brian Helgeland’s “Legend”.

Ronnie and Reggie Kray were the gangster royalty of the sixties. The story follows the twins after Ronnie’s release from a mental institution as they begin building their empire of organised crime in London and Reggie begins his romantic life with the quiet Frances Shea (Browning).

The film tells of the difficult relationship between the twins, told to us from the point of Reggie’s wife Frances. Tom’s portrayal of Reggie is not too far a throw away from Pacino’s Carlito Brigante and you can see the inner torment of a man torn between the love he has for his brother, the life they’ve created, and the woman he adored.

Unfortunately the character of Ronnie is played a little too funny and two dimentional for a film that makes light of his mental health issues and sexuality, which were ultimately his downfall. I’m not sure if the idea is that he *was* funny or that is how Helgeland wants the role portrayed but it adds a strange element to the film, and contrasted with the very straight laced performance by Hardy as Reggie, it leaves the audience wondering if this is a sinister film or a slapstick.

Nevertheless, Hardy plays both roles so well it’s hard to believe it’s the same person (and Hardy’s body double from Mad Max in some shots) playing opposing sides of the coins.

Browning’s performance is somewhat lacking in places, which is even reiterated by Hardy (Ronnie) in one scene stating there’s not much to her except for Reggie’s member.

This film is a far cry from “The Kray’s” of 1990 which told more of a gruesome side of gangsters, Legend has instead chosen to glamorize and romanticise the life of crime – not a far stretch for the mind when many women will be wishing to be on the arm of handsome Reggie Kray as it is.

The soundtrack of fantastic sixties songs is a brilliant backdrop to a well shot movie. This crime biopic seems to just miss the note it’s trying to hit but nevertheless you cannot fault Hardy’s Reggie Kray, an intimidating portrayal of arguably the scarier of the twins who leaves you at points with chills.

Reggie – 7/10

Ronnie 5/10

Legend – 6/10

krays

The Surgeon – Tess Gerritsen Review

Published September 10, 2015 by Lucidity23
I recently began reading the the Rizzoli and Isles thrillers just by chance thanks to an offer in Tescos.
After reading a few and really enjoying the characters i resolved to go back to the start – where Detective Jane Rizzoli began.
The Surgeon is a fantastic dissection of not just the human psyche but the struggles many women find when entering into a masculine dominated environment.
Detective Jane Rizzoli is assigned the case of a Killer who is targeting vulnerable women to torture, dissect with clinical precision, and murder.
As the investigation gets deeper Rizzoli discovers a similiar case in which the victim survived… but killed her attacker.
As the net begins to close on The Surgeon a game of cat and mouse ensues; Between Detective, Surgeon and Victim. Gerritsen really made a page turner here as we see not only the inner workings of the mind of a socio-path, but we feel the frustrations of  the somewhat Spikey Rizzoli and the pain of the victims.
This story is definitely worth a read if you are new to the thriller genre, it’s not too deep or complex, but it grips you by the neck and leaves you trusting no one on the pages. I found myself late at night saying “just one more page, just one more” before long I had finished it and couldn’t wait to read the next instalment of Gerritsens’ fantastic saga.
Lucidity 7/10