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Target - Simon Kernick

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7 Reviews

Author: Simon Kernick / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 05 November 2009 / Genre: Crime & Thriller / Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd / Title: Target / ISBN 13: 9780552156615 / ISBN 10: 0552156615

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    7 Reviews
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      16.07.2010 15:23

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      A must read for Simon Kernick fans

      I have read all of Simon Kernick's books and think they are superb and this one wasn't a disappointment. It is in the same style as Relentless and Severed and is fast paced and addictive. I couldn't put it down once I had started.

      The plot revolves around a guy who has gone back to a girl's apartment with her and whilst he is using the bathroom, two men break in and kidnap the girl. He manages to escape the kidnappers but there are continuously hot on his heals. When he reports the incident to the police nobody really believes him and even the girl's family lie and say she is on holiday. It seems there are no witnesses to corroborate his story and only one detective goes out on a limb as she has a gut feeling there is more to the story than meets the eye.

      Several characters including Tina Boyd return in this novel and this means that the you begin to learn more about these characters and understand what makes them tick. It also makes you think about human nature and what you would do in this situation. Would you out yourself in danger for someone you harldy knew or would you turn a blind eye.......

      This book is fast paced and is a definite must read for crime novel enthusiasts.

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      30.06.2010 15:31
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      Another readable thriller from Kernick, although he might need to change tack soon

      Simon Kernick is clearly a man who sticks to what he knows. And what he knows is how to construct a slick, fast paced thriller than rushes along with little time for much character or plot development.

      That's not necessarily a bad thing. After all, reading is a form of escapism and sometimes you just want to sit down, switch off and read something which is fun and doesn't require you to keep track of convoluted plot twists or dozens of characters.

      If that's what you're in the mood for, Target fits the bill perfectly. A highly readable, exciting thriller, it really has two key characters you need to keep track of and a plot that could easily be written on the back of a postage stamp. Rob Fallon bumps into an old friend and subsequently witnesses her kidnap. Unfortunately, the police don't believe him and her family denies she is missing. As Fallon starts his own investigations, he finds his own life increasingly in danger.

      That's essentially the nub of this book. Admittedly, there are various other things which happen from time to time, but the central thrust is the good, old-fashioned "man hunted by unknown enemies fights to stay alive." Shorn of unnecessarily complicated plot burdens, Kernick can get on with doing what he does best: telling a fast paced story which races breathlessly from incident to incident.

      Right from the word go, Target is in your face. Within 30 pages, the central plot has been set up and the kidnapping carried out. After that, it pretty much becomes Fallon facing (and escaping from) one perilous situation after another, stumbling from clue to clue as he comes ever closer to solving the mystery. If you stop and think about it, it is all very silly - hugely reliant on unlikely co-incidences and massive slices of luck, so the answer is simple: Don't think about it! Enjoy Target for what it is: a fun piece of hokum that both you and the author know is utterly preposterous, but which is nevertheless great fun to read.

      As with the plot, Kernick's style is unburdened by unnecessary adjectives or verbiage. He may not be the most accomplished writer in the world, but his style perfectly suits his books. Chapters are very short - usually fewer than ten pages which makes it very easy to read. Since pretty much every chapter ends on some sort of cliff-hanger, it makes you want to keep reading and the shorter chapters tempt you into doing that. You reach the end of a chapter keen to find out what happens next, so decide to read on "for just five minutes more."

      Descriptions of both people and places are kept to a minimum to help with the pacing. Locations are mere backdrops against which various breathless chases take place, whilst characters are pretty much the standard ones you would expect to find in a thriller of this nature: the committed, slightly maverick cop, the cold, ruthless killer and the out-of-his-depth innocent man.

      Ironically, when Kernick tries to show he's a "serious" author who does "proper" research, it's to the detriment of the book. In his author notes, Kernick comments how he talks to various police agencies about how they fight modern crime and has lots of contacts in various areas of law enforcement. At times, he tries a little too hard to throw some of this research into the mix, tossing around police acronyms or talking about various technologies which are used to track people or objects. This sudden injection of reality clashes with the unrealistic (but fun) nature of the rest of the book.

      You could accuse Kernick of being a little one-note. You could pretty much substitute any of the characters and situations from this book into his previous one - Relentless - and you would scarcely notice the difference. Indeed, such are the similarities, that I could probably have taken my review of Relentless and simply substituted the title "Target" and no-one would have noticed! If it's originality you're after, you will be sorely disappointed.

      The fast, breathless pacing is undoubtedly Target's main strength, but it's also its key weakness. The book is a little too focussed on racing from place to place and putting its main characters in as much peril as possible. Whilst you are always interested in what is happening and keen to see the main characters survive, you never really invest in them emotionally. The plot contains no great shocks: all the characters you expect to die do so; all the ones you expect to survive make it to the final page in one piece. Whilst Kernick builds his plot in a satisfactory enough manner, gradually unveiling more and more clues, there's nothing in it to take your breath away. The reason for the kidnapping turns out to be a typically Hitchcockian McGuffin - an irrelevancy to hang the plot off, rather than anything of significance and is something of an anti-climax.

      At the end of the day, Kernick has discovered what works for him and his target audience This is a fun, readable, if ultimately disposable book which will be forgotten about almost as soon as you close the covers for the final time.

      The challenge for Kernick is how sustainable this is. Relentless contained nothing new, and Target recycles much of its content, simply substituting new characters. That's fun for a couple of books, but I suspect that sooner or later, the superficial nature of his writing will start to wear thin. Kernick is currently a one-trick pony that everyone thinks is cute and fun. If he's going to keep the fickle book-reading public on his side, he needs to learn a new trick fast.

      Basic Information
      ----------------------
      Target
      Simon Kernick
      Corgi, 2009
      ISBN: 978-0-55215-661-5
      RRP: £6.99

      © Copyright SWSt 2010

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        13.05.2010 22:53
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        Another gripping read from Simon Kernick

        No one to trust
        Nowhere to run
        No place to hide...

        Writer Rob Fallon is on a night out with a friend when he bumps into his best friend's ex-girlfriend, Jenny.
        They begin chatting and Rob is surprised that he feels disappointed when the evening comes to an end and it's time to leave. After all, it doesn't feel quite right to be interested in your best friend's ex!
        However, when Jenny invites Rob back to her flat, he accepts, not sure whether the invite is meant as an extension of their chat, or something else. After arriving at her flat, it becomes clear that the latter is inevitable and as the couple become intimate, Rob, having had a few drinks, discovers the sudden urge to go to the toilet. Apologising to Jenny, he quickly rushes off to the bathroom as she tells him not to be long.

        Whilst he is in the bathroom, two men break into Jenny's apartment and abduct her and try to kill Rob, who manages to escape.
        Rob reports what has happened to the police, who do not appear to believe him, especially when Jenny's father confirms she is in fact on holiday abroad!

        Why would her father lie? Rob knows something is very wrong and Jenny's life is in danger. He manages to convince DS Tina Boyd to investigate further, but unfortunately she has to do this unofficially as her superior does not wish to take it any further. What follows sees Rob endangering his life, as he sets out to find Jenny and once again becomes the target of brutal killers.

        Target is the second book I have read by author Simon Kernick (the first one being 'Severed') and once again this is a fast-paced non-stop rollercoaster of a read, which quickly draws you in from the first page.
        The action is there from start to finish, along with a few twists and turns along the way, leading to an ending I did not expect nor foresee.

        Whilst I enjoyed the book overall, the problem I am finding after having read two of this author's books now, is that some parts of his plots are a little unbelievable and there are also a couple of minor inconsistencies in the stories.
        Having said that, I still found I was gripped by the story and finished the book in two sittings. It was after reading the book, when I sat back and thought it was good, but certainly not brilliant. I think the non-stop action of the story, leaves you no time to think too much whilst you are reading.

        Rob's character was very similar to the main character in 'Severed' which makes it seem somewhat formulaic. I was quite frustrated by Rob's character at times as he seemed to take some unnecessary risks, but the really interesting part for me was when Rob begins to realise that he can't really trust or believe anyone anymore. Even those who he considers to be friends. There are a few characters that pop up in the book as Rob is searching for the truth and I enjoyed the suspense, wondering if they were really all they seemed to be.

        One of those characters is Maxwell, a fifty-something former loanshark and enforcer in north London, who Rob met at a party. When Rob told Maxwell he was a writer, he became very interested in Rob, telling him he had 'loads of stories' for him and he could turn his life into a book. Something which Rob agrees to do. I found his character interesting and immediately wondered if there was more to Maxwell than Rob believes. Is what he is telling Rob, actually the truth?

        A brutal assassin, nick-named 'Hook' is a central part of the plot. We don't find out too much about him, other than he enjoys killing people. The killings are often gruesome and 'Hook' is definitely not a man you would wish to encounter! Again his character was a little reminiscent of one in 'Severed' I found, although the storyline here is different.

        The character of DS Tina Boyd was an interesting one. She is thought of as a tough, feisty detective, but she also shows her vulnerable side as it is revealed she also has a bit of a drink problem. I did think on more than one occasion that she was responsible for placing Rob in life-threatening situations, which given the fact she is a detective, she should really have known better. Tina herself ends up fighting for her life and the whole thing becomes a race against time, as the reason for Jenny's abduction becomes known and the countdown is on to try a prevent a major catastrophe taking place.

        As I mentioned earlier, I did not foresee the ending which was another good point about this book, as I like to be kept guessing until the end. The ending itself was slightly unusual character-wise and quite different from the norm I found when reading this type of book.

        The overall concept is exciting enough as Kernick enters the worlds of finance, politics and corruption, but at times the endless fighting for survival and gratuitous killings become a little over the top and that is where the unbelievable and unrealistic takes over. I think there were too many needless killings in the story. One or two I failed to see the point of at all and subsequently left me with a couple of loose ends which I wish had been tied up the end of the book, but instead were left unanswered.

        What Kernick has done well, it has to be said, is to write the story via a mixture of first person and third party, which he blends well together and the result is a flowing read. This together with the short chapters which often end on a cliffhanger, ensures the reader is gripped throughout the book. Despite it all getting somewhat far-fetched, it is still an exciting and entertaining read.

        If you enjoy an adrenalin filled read, full of action, chases and fight-for- your-life moments then I can recommend you look up Simon Kernick. He certainly provides a gripping read, even if it is at times unbelievable!

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          08.04.2010 10:56
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          4 stars

          This book centres around Rob Fallon, a writer in his own words, but a failure in most other peoples. After his wife left him and took away his daughter, he seemingly lives a lonely life, until one night after an all day drinking session he bumps into his best friends ex-girlfriend, Jenny. They soon end up back at her apartment (even though it's his best friends ex - like you would!) where one thing is bound to lead to another, straight after Rob takes a quick pee (romance is dead apparantly). While in the bathroom Rob hears a scuffle outside and peering through the crack in the door he see's Jenny being grabbed by two burley men. Being the kind of guy he is, rather than help her, he hides in the bath tub behind the shower curtain and prays for the ground to swallow him up.

          Rob manages to escape after a quite good read filled with tension and 'will he escape' moments. Making his way to the police station he reports the abduction, but unfortunately for Rob, after an all day drinking session, hiding in a bin for an hour (don't ask), and basically looking pretty worse for wear, the police are struggling to take him seriously. Add to the mix, Jenny's father who claims she is on holiday and has been for over a week, and a doorman to the apartment block who also backs up her father's story, things are not looking good for Rob. But determined to find out what happened to her, Rob stumbles deeper into the territory of the dangerous men and the secret they are trying to keep. Rob is determined to find Jenny and even more determined to survive, much to the bemusement of the killers....

          For any of you who haven't read a Simon Kernick book before, you have to take the storyline with a pinch of salt. To say they are far fetched would be an understatement, but Target appears to top all of his previous thrillers, with the main character not even being able to get the police to take him seriously. This book was a very good read, as were his previous books. It kept me gripped from the start, and although I found the last 50 or so pages of the book a little dissapointing, it is still a worthwhile read.

          Kernick has a way of writing which is gritty, fast paced and easy to read. There is nothing worse with a thriller, when you have to read and re-read pages just to figure out what on earth is going on! That's definately not the case with this book, and although it's an easy read, I struggled to figure out the ending before I got there.

          A few parts of the book were sticking points for me. I was dissapointed with the ending and the actual 'reason' behind all of the violence and cover ups. I was also dissapointed with the fact that without giving too much away, the involvement of one of the characters was never actually explained, which I found slightly odd!

          A couple of the characters in this book are regulars, appearing in several of his other thrillers, including the police officer Tina Boyd and Detective Mike Bolt. Both characters are likeable and it seems to carry the story somehow that you like the characters and want them to succeed and catch the 'bad guys'.

          Overall, a very good read, well worth 4 stars. Far fetched with lots of suspense, action and thrills, I wouldn't be surprised to see these books made into films one day.

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            06.04.2010 17:58
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            Not one to buy, but pick it up at your library

            I picked this book up from my local library recently as I had read some of Kernick's other books and felt that this one might be worth a try.

            Simon Kernick is a British crime writer who is very prolific and has written a number of crime thrillers. His books tend to be very fast paced, with short punchy chapters, and thus easy to read and hard to put down!

            This book centres around a struggling writer, Rob Fallon, who witnesses the kidnapping of his friend's ex girlfriend by two men one evening while at her flat for some slightly naughty romancing. He is seen by the kidnappers but manages to escape. He reports what he has seen to the police, and speaks to DS Tina Boyd who is suspicious but agrees to investigate his claims. She instinctively believes him even though many other people are claiming that Jenny (the kidnapped woman) is on holiday, including her own father, and there is no evidence that anyone was ever in her flat. Tina and Rob continue to dig at the case and uncover some startling information.

            Rob puts himself in a lot of danger by continuing to pursue this case and find Jenny. He makes himself a target, but manages to escape many times, to the extent that it gets a little silly to be honest. The plot is interesting enough to make a good read, but it stretches believability which can get irritating at times.

            Overall, I enjoyed the book but it was a bit of a "no-brainer", I didn't find it to be a particularly clever or challenging thriller and once again I didn't like any of the characters or find them particularly believable. I think this is the case with all of the Kernick books I have read - I don't relate to the characters at all, they seem to be quite samey and irritating and not my sort of person, and I generally couldn't care less if they live or die, which means I don't have any emotional investment in the book and it is detrimental to the reading experience. However, the saving grace of the book is its pace and the fact it was very easy to read through, I did devour it quite quickly and read it well into the night so although it has its faults (in my opinion), it is still well worth a read.

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            15.03.2010 16:11
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            A good read, and will keep trying Kernick's books

            I love crime and thriller books, and because I read so much, authors don't tend to write quick enough, so I needed to try a new author. I normally hate trying new writes, but searched through Dooyoo for some books that had been recommended. Then along came a review of one of Simon Kernicks books (I can't remember now which book it was), and they said that he was a British author, which makes a nice change to the normal American authors I have come across. So, off I went to WHSmiths and luckily for me, all Simon Kernick books were buy one get one half price. I bought this one and Severed (review to come later). This is the first one I read.

            ~The plot~
            Rob Fallon, a writer, is out drinking one night when he sees his best friends ex-girlfriend, Jenny. The drinking carries on, and somehow they both end up back at Jenny's posh, and well-guarded, apartment block. As Rob goes into the bathroom to freshen up ready for a bit of 'romance(!)', two men break into her flat and kidnap Jenny. Rob hides behind the shower curtain, thinking hes got to try and do something to help Jenny, but is unable to make himself move. Then one of the kidnappers finds him. Luckily, Rob manages to escape. Even though he has never been close to Jenny, he is not going to be able to forget this kidnapping, and asks Tina Boyd, a police officer, for help. But why is everyone saying that Jenny's on holiday? And, why does the CCTV footage not show them both entering the apartment block? Rob is worried that people aren't going to believe him. He was definitely at her flat, and she was definitely kidnapped. Rob doesn't let this stop him and starts to hunt for the truth, with Tina's help. But soon everything gets even worse. And Rob ends up running for his life. But not into safety. He wants to find out the truth, and will stop at nothing to get it.

            ~My opinion~
            The kidnapping plot comes out really early on into the book without finding out much about the characters before hand, rather Kernick shares things along the way so that we learn a little bit more about them until the very end. The authors I read don't tend to do this, and I found it a very interesting way of presenting the main characters. The book is quite fast-paced and something seems to happen in every chapter. However, looking back now, I don't think Kernick could have allowed a 'slow' chapter otherwise the book would have been too long.

            Because it was so fast-paced, it was very addictive and I found myself reading until stupid hours of the morning, as I couldn't end the night on a cliffhanger. This obviously caused me problems which is why it only took me 2 days to read!

            However, when the story unfolded and we found out why Jenny had been kidnapped and what Gas had to do with it, I got very confused, and even know I don't know if I could tell you why it all happened. It all sounded very far-fetched and unlikely to happen in real life. I prefer crime novels that could happen in normal everyday life, rather than going out on a whim, and creating a story that would very unlikely happen. But hey, maybe thats Kernicks style of writing. He obviously has a good imagination!

            I have given the book 4/5 dooyoo stars as it did keep me gripped until the end, but like I said before, the ending seems just a bit too unbelievable for my liking! However, this is not going to put me off, and I would like to read more of Kernicks books. Perhaps 'Relentless' which everyone seems to be talking about!

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              02.03.2010 20:53
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              A good thriller for beginners who want a book to take on holiday.

              Writer Rob Fallon goes out drinking one night with his friend Ramon, but somehow ends up with his best friend's ex-girlfriend, Jenny. Though he feels guilt, the drink is flowing, and he's always had that secret attraction for her... Before he knows it he's at her apartment and it's inevitable what is going to happen.

              This however turns into horror for Rob as suddenly two men break into Jenny's apartment, kidnap her, and then try to kill Rob. He manages to escape, just, and goes to report the incident to the police, worrying for Jenny's life. When he turns up to the police station, smelling of alcohol still, the police simply don't believe him. They phone Jenny's Dad, who says she's on holiday abroad.

              Rob knows full well Jenny's life is in extreme danger, and goes about finding evidence to prove to the police that something is truly going on. This only draws attention to himself and soon he's the target of brutal killers, who will stop at nothing. Why have they kidnapped Jenny, a seemingly ordinary girl? Why are they after Rob? Rob needs to find out before he and Jenny end up dead....

              Target is the fourth book I have read by Simon Kernick. I enjoyed Relentless, which became known for being on that Richard and Judy book list, and I thought it was alright, so I tried another two of his books. Unfortunately for me Kernick lacks what other good thriller writers have, and that is being able to write a plausible thriller novel. The events in some of his books are sometimes just so unbelievable it really ruins the book for me, and unfortunately this was no different with Target.

              What sounds like a great story and plot quickly turns into something very fast paced, completely unbelievable, yet somehow, quite addictive. Target wasn't so bad for me as other books I have read by Kernick, it did somehow keep me hooked, despite me knowing this wasn't the greatest thriller novel I've ever read. I think this is down to Kernick's use of short chapters which often end with a cliff hanger matching the end of an episode of 24. This is a good quality in a thriller novel, but I think Kernick needs to take more time on the nitty gritty stuff, and really make it more believable.

              The police characters in this book have often starred in other books by Kernick, but I never feel a great deal of connection with the characters. The character type of the main character in the book, Rob Fallon, felt very similar to the type of characters in his other books. They all seem to take on the same style, and it does start to feel all too familiar. One thing which struck me near the beginning of the book is when a lone police officer, who wants to believe Rob's kidnapping story, then encourages him to go into danger where a killer might be, and encourages him to trespass whilst she's off doing something else. I found this really silly, and the fact that a police officer can just go off and do her own thing despite the wishes of her boss did just seem far too fictional. I know this is a book of fiction, but this doesn't mean it needs to enter the realm of total make believe. A good thriller fiction to me will seem slightly believable at least.
              Later on in the book we meet Bolt, who again, doesn't seem to have too much of this own character, and I couldn't really feel a connection with the characters because of this.

              I'll give it to Kernick, he's really trying to give the book some nice twists, but one of the big twists at the end turned out to be rather silly, and I honestly couldn't believe he'd even thought the twist was a great idea. It just simply would not happen in real life, and it actually made the whole dramatic ending rather disappointing. The book did have some good twists in it, but the one at the end was probably unnecessary, and I beg any other reader to think differently about it.

              I can see why Kernick's books will appeal to the masses. They are fast paced, easy to pick up where you left off, and certainly are action packed with twists and turns. But for the hardened thriller readers out there, this feels like a basic 'thriller for beginner's' read, and makes for an extremely easy read. You would think after 4 books I would have learnt by now what to expect, yet I do get intrigued what sounds like a good plot on the back of each book... only to end up feeling disappointed with the end result when I get round to reading it. I would summarise by saying this book appeals to the crowd who only read on holiday, by the pool.

              Target is available on Amazon for £3.85. Published by Corgi Books 2005.

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