28 February 2015

Review: THEY FOUND HIM DEAD, Georgette Heyer - audio book

Synopsis (Audible.com)

The 60th birthday party of Silas Kane was marred by argument and dissension among his family. And then, the morning after the celebrations, Kane is found dead at the foot of a cliff. The theory that Silas accidentally lost his way in the fog is confirmed when the coroner returns a verdict of death by misadventure.

But then Kane's nephew and heir is murdered and threats are made on the next in line to the fortune, throwing a new and sinister light on Kane's death. All clues point to an elderly lady of eighty as the killer. But as the redoubtable Superintendent Hannasyde delves further into the case he discovers that nothing is quite as it seems

My Take

It takes quite a while for Superintendent Hannasyde to make an appearance, in my estimation about half the novel has passed before he is called in, and then only after the second death.

Meanwhile the reader has explored the Kane family. I may have found this less confusing if I had been reading with my eyes rather than my ears. The author has the tendency to refer to characters sometimes by first name and sometimes by surname. It took me quite a while to work out they were not two different people. I think perhaps which name is used depends on the character's role in the family and applies particularly to Mrs Kane (senior)'s companion.

We accept the interpretation that Silas Kane was murdered while on his evening walk, pushed over a cliff in the fog, readily enough but all theories are confounded when his heir is shot while sitting at his desk in the study. His distraught wife has a lover but as she will not inherit there seems no reason to suspect him or her. Attention focusses on who will now be the heir, and a dodgy investment scheme lurks in the wings.

As I noted in my review of an earlier Heyer detective novel, the language seems a bit dated but the plotting is tight, and the characters, although some are abysmal people, or perhaps because they are, are quite realistic. 

My rating: 3.8

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23 February 2015

Review: ANGLE OF INVESTIGATION: Three Harry Bosch Stories, Michael Connelly

  • Format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 415 KB
  • Print Length: 98 pages
  • Publisher: Allen & Unwin (October 11, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005SDPHM0
Synopsis (Amazon)

LAPD Detective Harry Bosch tackles three tough cases that span a legendary career in this never-before-collected trio of stories.

In CHRISTMAS EVEN, the case of a burglar killed in mid-heist leads Bosch to retrace a link to his past. In FATHER'S DAY, Bosch investigates a young boy's seemingly accidental death and confronts his own fears as a father. In ANGLE OF INVESTIGATION, Bosch delves into one of the first homicides he ever worked back as a uniformed rookie patrolman, a case that was left unsolved for decades. Together, these gripping stories span Bosch's controversial career at the LAPD, and show the evolution of the haunted, legendary investigator he would become.

My Take

From the reviews on Amazon, it seems that die-hard Michael Connelly fans won't particularly like these short stories, because they are short, lacking a bit in character development, and have pretty simple plot lines.

On the other hand if you are looking for some good quality quick reads, then they may hit the spot, as they did for me.

My rating: 4.4

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22 February 2015


  • first published by HarperLuxe 2014
  • ISBN 978-0-06-227844-9
  • 336 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (publisher)

The critically acclaimed author of the New York Times bestseller A Land More Kind Than Home returns with a resonant novel of love and atonement, blood and vengeance, set in western North Carolina, involving two young sisters, a wayward father, and an enemy determined to see him pay for his sins.

After their mother's unexpected death, twelve-year-old Easter and her six-year-old sister Ruby are adjusting to life in foster care when their errant father, Wade, suddenly appears. Since Wade signed away his legal rights, the only way he can get his daughters back is to steal them away in the night.

Brady Weller, the girls' court-appointed guardian, begins looking for Wade, and he quickly turns up unsettling information linking Wade to a recent armored car heist, one with a whopping $14.5 million missing. But Brady Weller isn't the only one hunting the desperate father. Robert Pruitt, a shady and mercurial man nursing a years-old vendetta, is also determined to find Wade and claim his due.

Narrated by a trio of alternating voices, This Dark Road to Mercy is a story about the indelible power of family and the primal desire to outrun a past that refuses to let go.

My Take

This book is probably at the very edge of the crime fiction genre - crimes have been committed, even murders, but that is not the central theme of the story. What is central is a father's attempt to re-establish a relationship with his two daughters. He gradually wins both of them over, but they are all on the run.

The story asks a moral question - when Wade, who signed away his legal rights to his children, decides he wants to re-establish them, should he be allowed to? Or are they better off without him?

An engrossing read.

My rating: 4.7

20 February 2015

Review: THE BRONZE HORSEMAN, Paullina Simons

  • published by Harper Collins 2011
  • ISBN 978-0-00-790467-9
  • 637 pages
  • from my local library
Synopsis (author website)

Leningrad 1941: the white nights of summer illuminate a city of fallen grandeur whose beautiful palaces and stately avenues speak of a different age, when Leningrad was known as St Petersburg.

Two sisters, Tatiana and Dasha, share the same bed, living in one room with their brother and parents. It is a hard, impoverished life, yet the Metanovs know many who are not as fortunate as they.

The family routine is shattered on 22 June 1941 when Hitler invades Russia. For the Metanovs, for Leningrad and for Tatiana, life will never be the same again. On the fateful day, Tatiana meets a brash young officer named Alexander.

Tatiana and her family suffer as Hitler’s army advances on Leningrad, and the Russian winter closes in. With bombs falling and the city under siege, Tatiana and Alexander are drawn to each other in an impossible love. It is a love that could tear Tatiana’s family apart, a love that carries a secret that could mean death for anyone who hears it.

Confronted on the one hand by Hitler’s unstoppable war machine, and on the other by a Soviet system determined to crush the human spirit, Tatiana and Alexander are pitted against the very tide of history, at a turning point in the century that made the modern world.

Mesmerizing from the very first page to the final, breathtaking end, The Bronze Horseman brings alive the story of two indomitable, heroic spirits and their great love that triumphs over the devastation of a country at war.

My Take

Do you feel obliged to finish a book, once started? One of the hardest things I find is to stop reading a book when I am not finding it a satisfying read.

Had THE BRONZE HORSEMAN been shorter (I got to page 187), or had it had more mystery about its plot, or had I been younger, I might have finished it. I am more than willing to believe that it may well be another's cup of tea, just not mine.

The Metanov family are in Leningrad, fighting in their own way for Mother Russia as Hitler's forces advance steadily towards the city. Pasha, the 17 year old son, and Tatiana's twin, disappears from a boy's holiday camp near Novgorod where his father has sent him. The family are living in squalid conditions when a Red Army officer Alexander enters their lives. Tatiana's older sister appropriates him, and so a love triangle develops.

And that's where I stopped. I have no doubt that the historical detail is what will attract some readers, while the romance will captivate others. Just not me. It was part of an attempt to read a book that is NOT crime fiction.

My Rating: 2.0

19 February 2015

Books on the Go

Plans, plans, plans
TBRN - To Be Read Next - lists to give me direction,
but I often ignore them :-)

from Net Galley
  • EDEN, Candice Fox
  • ODD FELLOWS, Nicholas Shakespeare
from my TBR
  • PAVING THE NEW ROAD, Sulari Gentil
audio books on the go
  • RUNAWAY, Peter May
  • THEY FOUND HIM DEAD, Georgette Heyer - I must be nearly finished this!
from my Kindle
  • THE CARTER OF 'LA PROVIDENCE', Georges Simenon
  • IT HAPPENED IN EGYPT, Charles Norris Williams - published in 1915 - I started it but now I'm not sure I want to read it
review books
  • THE KIZUNA COAST, Sujata Massey
  • DEAD RECKONING, Michael Smart
  • PAINTED BLACK, Greg Kihn
  • ONE TOO MANY, Maureen Jennings
  • THE FOURTH REICH, Helen Goltz
  • DEATH BY DISGUISE,, Helen Goltz
from the library
  • BY ITS COVER, Donna Leon
  • MEDEA'S CURSE, Anne Buist
  • AN EVENT IN AUTUMN, Henning Mankell
  • THE HUNTING DOGS, Jorn Lier Horst
  • THE BRONZE HORSEMAN, Paullina Simons - as far as I can see this will count for "NOT crime fiction." - I have begun it, but it is very long......

17 February 2015

Review: DEAD HEADING, Catherine Aird

  • first published by Allison & Busby 2013
  • ISBN 978-0-7490-1388-2
  • 287 pages
  • source: my local library
  • #23 in the Sloan and Crosby Mystery series
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

When Jack Haines reports a break-in at his greenhouse, the motive of the intruder is unclear. Other than the destruction of some expensive orchids, no damage has been done, and nothing seems to be missing. But Detectives Sloan and Crosby sense something sinister, and soon their suspicions are confirmed. Similar reports are multiplying and sabotage is the word on everyone's lips.

The pair is drawn into an equally perplexing case when the mysterious Miss Enid Maude Osgathorp goes missing. Investigations begin at her deserted abode, Canonry Cottage, where the detectives soon discover that the house has been ransacked. Shattered glass is found in the larder, and traces of blood spatter are found on the floors. Something disturbing has undoubtedly taken place, but Sloan and Crosby can't figure out who did it, or why.

As it becomes clear that the two cases are linked, the two detectives must work to find the missing woman, and how she connects to the greenhouse burglary, before it is too late.

Dead Heading is the 23rd book in Catherine Aird's series following Detective Chief Inspector C.D. Sloan.

My Take

I decided to borrow this from my local library after seeing a tribute to Catherine Aird on Martin Edwards' blog after the CWA announced she had been awarded the Diamond Dagger for sustained excellence in her work.
Edwards says
    Her plots are clever, her characters and situations are entertaining,and her humour a real bonus..
Despite the number of books Aird has written (see Fantastic Fiction for the list), I have never reviewed one in the history of this blog.

DEAD HEADING was true to Edwards' summary: a clever two-pronged plot where the strands finally merge, but it is hard to see for most of the book how they will. A cozy in the British tradition and a fine mystery. I also enjoyed the characters of the two main detectives and their boss. It didn't seem to matter that I had come in at the end, rather than the beginning, of the series.And there is a fine touch of humour - quirky little quotations, references to other well known novels and writers and so on.

My rating: 4.3

16 February 2015

Review: THE TERRORISTS, Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo

  • English translation first published 1975
  • this edition published by Fourth Estate 2011
  • ISBN 978-0-00-743920-1
  • translated from Swedish by Joan Tate
  • 324 pages
  • #10 (final book) in the Martin Beck series
Synopsis (Good Reads)

An 18-year-old woman is accused of a bank robbery she never intended to commit. Later, a producer of pornographic films is found murdered at the home of his mistress. Meanwhile, Martin Beck is placed in charge of Swedish security ahead of the visit of a US senator whom a group of international terrorists is determined to assassinate.

My take

Dennis Lehane wrote a wonderful introduction to this title, well worth reading, in which he talks about the chaotic forms of terror described in this story.

Martin Beck, head of the Murder Squad, seems to have risen as high as he can go, and he seems to have managed to get life in some sort of perspective, thanks to Rhea, his lover. But he still doesn't always get it right. A police procedural with a really different approach. 

This is a series worth reading, in order, if you have never tackled it. Vintage crime fiction.
1. Roseanna (1965)
2. The Man Who Went Up in Smoke (1966)
3. The Man on the Balcony (1967)
4. The Laughing Policeman (1968)
     aka Investigation of Murder
5. The Fire Engine That Disappeared (1969)
6. Murder at the Savoy (1970)
7. The Abominable Man (1972)
8. The Locked Room (1973)
9. Cop Killer (1975)
10. The Terrorists (1976)

My rating:  4.5

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