Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Frantic: Katherine Howell



Frantic (2007) by Katherine Howell is the first in a series of six books, set in Sydney, Australia. There are two main characters per book (roughly, as I understand it from reviews). The detective, Ella Marconi, is a constant throughout the series. The second character in each book is a paramedic, and that character changes from book to book. I think this is a very clever strategy, because it allows for variety and spices up the mix of characters. I will see as I continue reading this series.

I was lucky when I started reading this book. It was a day that I could read all day (very unusual in my life). I was immediately hooked in by the story and the characters, and I did finish the book in one day. And enjoyed it very much.

The title of the book describes the pace of the book.  This could be a criticism, but I found that the pace and the excitement level in the story kept me reading and I did not want to put the book down.

The book centers around the story of one paramedic and some events that happen to her family (her husband and child). The paramedic is Sophie Phillips and she and her husband Chris are experiencing marital problems. I am not going to go into much more detail than that regarding the plot. In the course of the paramedic's work, the emergency events are very fast paced and I felt the urgency of each rescue attempt.

Ella Marconi, the detective, is an interesting character but does seem to be in the background in this book. She is frustrated in her job (sounds familiar for detectives) and feels she has been passed over for plum assignments in the past. I will be interested in seeing how she develops in future books in the series.

A small (very small) quibble. I did get irritated with the married couple, because both assumed they knew what the other was thinking (wrongly) and made bad decisions based on this. I know this is a common plot device to keep a story interesting, but it is a pet peeve of mine. I also did not find this book to give me much sense of Sydney, the city in which they are based. That, however, is not a criticism from my point of view, just a comment in case that is specifically what the reader is looking for.

The author "worked as a paramedic for fifteen years and uses that experience in her books," per her website. The page on that site about this book has a sample chapter and some interesting comments on how the series started.

Please see these reviews...
at Ms. Wordopolis Reads and All the Books I Can Read (lots more detail at this one).


21 comments:

  1. I love Katherine Howell's books. I've read 3 or 4 by now and find them incredibly smooth reading and unputdownable.

    I haven't read this one but I have it and will do so when I can get through these endlessly growing book stacks here, which multiply like rabbits.

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    1. Kathy, I know what you mean. I have to read a few of my books before I can go purchase any more of this series.

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  2. Another title from Sydney - fab, I've got family out there so really want to read these now - thanks TracyK, as ever.

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    1. Sergio, Sydney is huge. I thought my home town (plus surrounding areas) was huge, but it is about one quarter the size of Sydney. Regardless, I think you will like this series.

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  3. Great review and another series I like the sound of but will have to pass on. What resolve and will-power I have!
    It does remind me that I haven't read anything from this neck of the woods for a while. I have a Luke Preston book to check out soon, but I can't recall where in Aus it is set.

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    1. Col, thanks. I actually think this is a series you might like if you ever have space for it. I have not heard of Luke Preston. Where in Australia are his books set?

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    2. Preston is from Melbourne I believe, and I think his two books are set there, though it doesn't say that anywhere I can find. Just a reference a reviewer (and resident of the city) made on Goodreads,

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  4. Tracy, I usually don't read medical thrillers though I don't think this is strictly one, on the lines of, say, a Robin Cook thriller. I'll check it out, though.

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    1. Prashant, I did not think of this as a medical thriller, but you are right in a sense. Since so much of the action and plot focuses on paramedics, it does have to feature medical procedures, etc. Interesting.

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  5. Tracy - I'm so glad you enjoyed this novel even if you do have a few little quibbles about it. I'm a big fan of this series, so it's very good to hear you liked this entry. I recommend the rest of 'em too.

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    1. Margot, I did like it, a lot. I did not want to put it down. Hope I can get to another one in the series soon, but you know the problem with too many books to read and too little time.

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  6. I have read a couple of reviews of this one, and am very tempted by it...

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    1. Moira, I think you would like the book. A very quick read and the fast pace seemed realistic for this book.

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  7. Thanks for the link, Tracy, and thanks for the information about the rest of the series. I found myself reading so quickly I didn't have time for any quibbles :)

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    1. Rebecca, I know what you mean. About reading so quickly. I was really glad I was able to read it in almost one sitting, which is a rare opportunity for me.

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  8. I'm always on the look out for page-turning novels so thanks you guys (Rebecca and Tracy). I actually have a couple of Howells books in my stacks. I am making it my business to read more crime fiction written by women. I realize and not in any purposeful way that most of the books I read heavily are written by men. Not that there's anything wrong with that but I need/want to have more of a balance there and Ruth Rendell kicked it off things nicely with a bang. Will add Howell to my list to read this year. Thanks!!

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    1. Keishon, I was trying to read only books by women this month and was doing pretty well but broke my pattern with a book by Alan Furst. A lot of my current favorite authors are men, but I do have some women on that list too.

      I think you will like Katherine Howell's books.

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    2. Hah, I'm about to break mine with a Ken Bruen title. I'm writing out the review tonight and will post tomorrow.

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    3. Keishon, I will be looking for that review.

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  9. I wouldn't call Howell's books medical thrillers. They're page-turning investigations. The police detective is Ella Marconi and she has teammates with her some of the time. Another view point is that of the EMT team, so there are some emergencies they have to deal with.

    But illnesses and medical treatment are not the main points of the stories. It's still a police investigation of murders with interviews, following clues, zeroing in on suspects.

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    1. True, Kathy, much more emphasis on the police investigations. I can't remember if I have read any real medical thrillers. Watched some good movies in that area though.

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