1 April 2020

What I read in March 2020

Travel and self-isolation have contributed to a bumper reading month, with lots of very good reads.
  1. 4.5, DAY OF THE DEAD, Nicci French
  2. 4.5, EVEN DOGS IN THE WILD, Ian Rankin
  3. 4.7, DEATH IS NOW MY NEIGHBOUR, Colin Dexter - audio book  
  4. 4.5, THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ, Heather Morris - not crime fiction 
  5. 4.5, NINE PERFECT STRANGERS, Liane Moriarty - Australian author 
  6. 4.5, MR NOBODY, Catherine Steadman
  7. 4.3, CHICKEN FEED, Minette Walters
  8. 4.5, THE WIFE AND THE WIDOW, Christian White - Australian  
  9. 4.5, THEIR LITTLE SECRET, Mark Billingham
  10. 4.6. THE LONG CALL, Ann Cleeves
  11. 4.5, GONE BY MIDNIGHT, Candice Fox - Australian 
  12. 4.4, THE AU PAIR, Emma Rous  
  13. 4.4, A MATTER OF MOTIVE, Margot Kinberg
  14. 4.2, DARKNESS FOR LIGHT, Emma Viskic - Australian 
  15. 4.8, BLOOD RIVER, Tony Cavanaugh - Australian 
See what others have read in the last month

Pick of the Month March 2020

Crime Fiction Pick of the Month 2020
Many crime fiction bloggers write a summary post at the end of each month listing what they've read, and some, like me, even go as far as naming their pick of the month.

This meme is an attempt to aggregate those summary posts.
It is an invitation to you to write your own summary post for March 2020, identify your crime fiction best read of the month, and add your post's URL to the Mr Linky below.
If Mr Linky does not appear for you, leave the URL in a comment and I will add it myself.

You can list all the books you've read in the past month on your post, even if some of them are not crime fiction, but I'd like you to nominate your crime fiction pick of the month.

That will be what you will list in Mr Linky too -
ROSEANNA, Maj Sjowall & Per Wahloo - MiP (or Kerrie)

You are welcome to use the image on your post and it would be great if you could link your post back to this post on MYSTERIES in PARADISE.

31 March 2020

New to Me Authors read January-March 2020

I've read 37 books in the first 3 months of 2020, and 11 of those were "new-to-me" authors.

If you'd like to tell me what you've read, please leave the titles in a comment.
  1. 4.3, BROKEN BONE CHINA, Laura Childs
  2. 4.7, LOCK EVERY DOOR, Riley Sager
  3. 4.5, WHO KILLED RUBY? Camilla Way
  4. 4.3, SIX MINUTES, Petronella McGovern  
  5. 4.4, EYES LIKE MINE, Sheena Kamal
  6. 4.4, LONG TIME LOST, Chris Ewan
  7. 4.8, THE VAN APFEL GIRLS ARE GONE, Felicity McLean  - Australian
  8. 4.5, DEAD MAN SWITCH, Tara Moss
  9. 4.5, THE LOST GIRLS, Jennifer Spence - Australian
  10. 4.5, THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ, Heather Morris - Australian author
  11. 4.4, THE AU PAIR, Emma Rous

Review: BLOOD RIVER, Tony Cavanaugh

  • Format: Kindle Edition (Amazon)
  • File Size: 951 KB
  • Print Length: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Hachette Australia; Digital original edition (23 April 2019)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group (AU)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B07KPKB63Q
Synopsis  (Amazon)

Brisbane 1999. It's hot. Stormy. Dangerous. The waters of the Brisbane River are rising.
The rains won't stop. People's nerves are on edge. And then...
A body is found.
And then another.
And another.
A string of seemingly ritualized but gruesome murders. All the victims are men. Affluent. Guys with nice houses, wives and kids at private schools. All have had their throats cut.
Tabloid headlines shout, THE VAMPIRE KILLER STRIKES AGAIN!

Detective Sergeant Lara Ocean knows the look. The 'my-life-will-never-be-the-same-again look'. She's seen it too many times on too many faces. Telling a wife her husband won't be coming home. Ever again. Telling her the brutal way he was murdered. That's a look you never get used to.

Telling a mother you need her daughter to come to the station for questioning. That's another look she doesn't want to see again.

And looking into the eyes of a killer, yet doubting you've got it right. That's the worst look of all - the one you see in the mirror. Get it right, you're a hero and the city is a safer place. Get it wrong and you destroy a life. And a killer remains free. Twenty years down the track, Lara Ocean will know the truth.

My take

I thought this was such a cleverly constructed novel with themes that resonated in the Australian setting: Queensland weather, rise of the Brisbane river and flooding of the city, corruption in the Queensland police force, corruption in government, the glass ceiling both for women and for women of mixed race.

A culture of corruption leads to the decision to look for a quick resolution and conviction in the Vampire Slayer case. The story begins on the eve of 2YK, with 3 seemingly ritualised killings of middle-aged men, and the tracking down of the killer on the basis of what other teenagers and her teacher said about her. The culprit is quickly brought to trial, and sentenced to life amid public jubilation.

The plot directions often took me by surprise. I certainly hadn't expected the plot to cover 20 years, nor had I expected Billy Waterson to become essentially a "reformed" character. I thought it got under the skin of the main characters, and it kept my interest throughout.

My rating: 4.8

I have previously read
4.3, PROMISE, Tony Cavanaugh

Review: DARKNESS FOR LIGHT, Emma Viskic

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 4347 KB
  • Print Length: 213 pages
  • Publisher: Echo (2 December 2019)
  • Sold by: Amazon Australia Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0821FDXFL
  • #3 in the Caleb Zilic series
Synopsis  (Amazon)

The third thrilling instalment in the award-winning Caleb Zelic series. After a lifetime of bad decisions troubled PI Caleb Zelic is finally making good ones. He's in therapy, reconnecting with the Deaf community, and reconciling with his beloved wife.

But he can't escape his past.

A violent confrontation forces Caleb back into contact with his double-crossing partner, Frankie. When her niece is kidnapped, Frankie and Caleb must work together to save the child's life. But their efforts will risk everything, including their own lives.

My Take

This must have been just a bit too noir for my tastes, but I just found it a bit of a slog.

I don't actually warm to the central character Caleb Zelic, nor to many of the central characters he works with.

There is a lot of background material where I feel I have missed out on the full story, and that was actually how I felt when I read the previous title in the series.

The rating I gave it reflects the way I felt about the book, but others readers may well rate it more highly.

My Rating: 4.2

I've already  read

Review: A MATTER OF MOTIVE, Margot Kinberg

  • Format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 4353 KB
  • Print Length: 235 pagesPublisher: Grey Cells Press (March 16, 2020)
  • Publication Date: March 16, 2020
  • Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B081TLQMX5
Synopsis (Amazon)

A man is dead in his car, slumped over the steering wheel. But who killed him? Ron Clemons is the last person you’d think would be murdered. His wife and son love him. His employees respect him. His business is doing well. His clients seek him out. But someone wanted him dead.

The Clemons case is a golden opportunity for newly minted police detective Patricia Stanley to prove herself. It’s her first murder investigation, and she wants to do well. But it’s not going to be easy. For one thing, she has plenty to learn about handling a murder. And nearly everyone involved in this one is hiding something. Patricia faces her own challenges, too, as the investigation brings back the murder of an old love.
My Take

A police procedural with two rookie detectives being trained in acceptable techniques by their new boss. The book title poses the question that the reader asks constantly: who profited by the death from digitoxin poisoning of Ron Clemons, successful publicist? I must confess that I solved the "who" about half way through the book, bit was a little astray on the "why".

It was a satisfyingly complex plot though, and it kept me engaged.
Apparently the beginning of a new series, and I look forward to the next.

My rating: 4.4

I've also read
4.5, B - VERY FLAT
4.3, IN A WORD: MURDER  (edit)

Review: THE AU PAIR, Emma Rous

  • Format: Kindle Edition (Amazon)
  • File Size: 505 KB
  • Print Length: 386 pages
  • Publisher: Piatkus (6 December 2018)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group (AU)
  • Language: English
  • author website
Synopsis (Amazon)

Seraphine Mayes and her brother Danny are the first set of twins to be born at Summerbourne House. But on the day they were born their mother threw herself to her death, their au pair fled, and the village thrilled with whispers of a stolen baby.

Now twenty-five, and mourning the recent death of her father, Seraphine uncovers a family photograph taken on the day the twins were born featuring both parents posing with just one baby. Seraphine soon becomes fixated with the notion that she and Danny might not be twins after all, that she wasn't the baby born that day and that there was more to her mother's death than she has ever been told...

Why did their beloved au pair flee that day?
Where is she now?
Does she hold the key to what really happened? 

My take

Seraphine and Danny's father has recently died from falling off a ladder and now who will inherit Summerbourne House hangs in the balance. The decision is in the hands of Vera, Seraphine's maternal grandmother.

In her father's possessions Seraphine finds a photo of her mother holding a baby, looking happy, just hours before she jumped over the cliff to her death. But which baby is it? Why is there only one baby in the photo?  Seraphine and Danny are twins although she was born first.

Seraphine is gripped with a passion to know who she really is. Is she the baby in the photo? She needs to find the au pair who was there at her birth. But someone does not want her to find out the truth.

An interesting read but I think the author was confronted with an almost impossible problem at the end which I am not sure she resolved all that well.

My rating: 4.4

About the author
Emma grew up in England, Indonesia, Kuwait, Portugal and Fiji, and from a young age she had two ambitions: to write stories, and to look after animals. She studied veterinary medicine and zoology at the University of Cambridge, then worked as a small animal veterinary surgeon for eighteen years before switching to full time writing in 2016. Emma lives in Cambridgeshire, England, with her husband and three sons.

The Au Pair is her first novel. It will be published in ten countries, in nine languages. She is currently writing her second book.


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