#FridayReads 2020-11-20 ‘Stormbreaker’, ‘The Witch Hunter’, and ‘The Poacher’s Son’

This week’s books have only two things in common, they were all written by men, and each is the first book in a series. They were published a decade apart from each other (2000, 2010, 2020) by writers of different nationalities (a Brit, a Finn and an American) and in different genres ( Spy/Young Adult, Nordic Noir, Outdoorsman mystery).

I’m reading them in the hope of light entertainment and some new series to follow.

‘Stormbreaker’ by Anthony Horowitz (2000)

In Britain, Anthony Horowitz is everywhere. He was the man behind the Midsommer Murders and Foyles war TV series. He was the writer commissioned by Conan Doyle’s estate to write new Sherlock Holmes books and his young adult Alex Rider series, about an English teenager working for the British security services, has sold nineteen million copies.

The Alex Rider series has been on my ‘maybe I should read it’ list for a long time. I was put off by the 2005 ‘Stormbreaker’ movie which bombed heavily, costing $40m to make, recouping only $23.9m and killing a planned movie franchise.

I wasn’t surprised. They’d taken the very English Alex Pettyfer, subsequently the face for Burbury, and made him look like the American hero of a High School Musical crossed with a Jedi Knight wannabe.

My interest was revived by a number of folks saying how much they’d enjoyed the books and by the favourable reception of Amazon Prime’s ‘Alex Rider’ series this year, starring Otto Farrant, which seemed much more believable. Amazon has commissioned a second series. What finally made my mind up was the release of a whole new set of audiobooks narrated by Oliver Chris.

I’m hoping for light, fast, escapist, cheer-for-the-good-guy fiction that I can use a comfort read series.

The Witch Hunter’ by Max Seeck (2020)

Max Seeck is a Finn who is ploughing his own furrow in the Nordic Noir genre. His first trilogy, a set of thrillers about Daniel Kuisma, a Senior Specialist in the Finnish Defence Forces, seems not yet to be available in English.

The English language version of ‘The Witch Hunter’ the first book of his current series about Jessica Niemi, an Investigator with the Helsinki police, was published in 2020.

The premise of ‘The Witch Hunter’ is intriguing: a set of serial killers acting out the killings in a Finnish author’s best-selling trilogy about witch trials. The book isn’t the typical hunt-the-serial-killer story as much of the focus is on the mysterious past and ambiguous present of Jessica Niemi, which may provide the key to the bizarre and incredibly elaborate killings.

I’m hoping for something atmospheric, clever and character-driven.

‘The Poacher’s Son’ by Paul Doiron (2010)

Paul Doiron is an American thriller writer, based out of Maine. ‘One Last Lie’, the eleventh book in his series about Maine game warden, Mike Bowditch, was published this year.

The first book in the series, ‘The Poacher’s Son’ won the Barry Award and the Strand Critics Award for Best First Novel when it was published in 2010.

I’m hoping for a Maine version of C. J. Box’s Joe Picket books but set against Maine scenery and with more of a thriller feel.

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