22 October 2017

Review: THE SEAGULL, Ann Cleeves

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 2306 KB
  • Print Length: 307 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan (August 29, 2017)
  • Publication Date: August 29, 2017
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B072BMV2K9
  • #8 in the Vera Stanhope series 
Synopsis (Amazon)

The Seagull is Ann Cleeves’ searing eighth novel in the bestselling Vera Stanhope series, about corruption deep in the heart of a community, and about fragile, and fracturing, family relationships.

A visit to her local prison brings DI Vera Stanhope face to face with an old enemy: former detective superintendent, and now inmate, John Brace. Brace was convicted of corruption and involvement in the death of a gamekeeper – and Vera played a part in his downfall.

Brace promises Vera information about the disappearance of Robbie Marshall, a notorious wheeler-dealer, if she will look out for his daughter and grandchildren. He tells her that Marshall is dead, his body buried close to St Mary’s Island in Whitley Bay. However, when a search team investigates, officers find not one skeleton, but two.

This cold case takes Vera back in time, and very close to home, as Brace and Marshall, along with a mysterious stranger known only as ‘the Prof’, were close friends of Hector, her father. Together, they were ‘the Gang of Four’, and Hector had been one of the last people to see Marshall alive. Vera must confront her prejudices and unwanted memories to dig out the truth, as the past begins to collide dangerously with the present . . .

My Take

Vera's boss sends her off to the local prison to give a talk to some geriatric inmates. There she comes face to face with John Brace, a bent copper whom she helped put away. Brace says he has some information about a cold case, in return for Vera visiting his daughter. Vera finds she has a lot of sympathy for the daughter Patty who in reality is not doing all that well. There are some aspects of Patty's story that pricks Vera's curiosity, particularly about what happened to Patty's mother who was a prostitute.

Brace is true to his word and tells Vera where to find the body of a man who disappeared some years before. But there they find two bodies, not one, and then Patty's ex-husband is killed.

In this story I particularly liked the fact that Vera was prepared to go the extra mile, and that she expected her team to do so as well. When it all comes together at the end, it has been a very satisfying journey.

When you read this novel, be sure to read the author's note in the final pages about the setting.

My rating: 4.7

I've also read
mini-review RAVEN BLACK - Shetland #1
WHITE NIGHTS - Shetland#2
RED BONES - Shetland #3
5.0, BLUE LIGHTNING - Shetland#4
5.0, DEAD WATER  - Shetland#5
4.6, THIN AIR - Shetland #6
4.3, MURDER IN PARADISE - Palmer-Jones series #3
TELLING TALES (Vera Stanhope) #2
4.8, SILENT VOICES, (Vera Stanhope) #4
5.0, THE GLASS ROOM (Vera Stanhope) #5
4.9, HARBOUR STREET (Vera Stanhope) #6
 4.5, BURIAL OF GHOSTS - stand-alone
4.8, THE MOTH CATCHER (Vera Stanhope #7)
4.4, TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE (Quick Reads)

19 October 2017

review: HE SAID, SHE SAID, Erin Kelly


  • this edition published by Hodder & Stoughton 2017
  • ISBN 978-1-444-79715-2
  • 408 pages
  • source: my local library
  • Author website
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

In the summer of 1999, Kit and Laura travel to a festival in Cornwall to see a total eclipse of the sun. Kit is an eclipse chaser; Laura has never seen one before. Young and in love, they are certain this will be the first of many they'll share.

But in the hushed moments after the shadow passes, Laura interrupts a man and a woman. She knows that she saw something terrible. The man denies it. It is her word against his.

The victim seems grateful. Months later, she turns up on their doorstep like a lonely stray. But as her gratitude takes a twisted turn, Laura begins to wonder - did she trust the wrong person?

15 years later, Kit and Laura married are living under new names and completely off the digital grid: no Facebook, only rudimentary cell phones, not in any directories. But as the truth catches up to them, they realize they can no longer keep the past in the past.

From Erin Kelly, queen of the killer twist, He Said/She Said is a gripping tale of the lies we tell to save ourselves, the truths we cannot admit, and how far we will go to make others believe our side of the story.


My Take

You never think that being witnesses for the prosecution will lead to you having to hide away so that the person who is convicted on the basis of your evidence can't find you, and neither can the woman  that you testified for. But that is what happens to Laura and Kit. Laura is worried about a little lie that she told with the best of intentions. What she doesn't realise is that there are some things that Kit has not said.

For fifteen years Kit and Laura chase eclipses, Laura lives in fear of being tracked down, and she becomes more and more insecure, more and more reliant on Kit. Very nasty events occur that make her feel even more insecure. But in 2015 Kit goes to an eclipse on his own, and this brings everything to a head.

In line with the blurb on the book's cover I am trying desperately not to give the plot away.  The book flashes between several time frames: 1999, 2000, 2015. I found that a bit tiresome as a plot strategy as the jump seemed to happen almost at every change of chapter, and the reader can never really relax.

Nevertheless it is a cleverly constructed novel with a huge twist at the end that I really didn't see coming.

My rating: 4.5

About the author
Erin Kelly was born in London in 1976 and studied English at Warwick University. She has worked as a freelance journalist for ten years, specialising in women, health, sex and lifestyle.

She is the author behind Broadchurch.
Novels
The Poison Tree (2010)
The Sick Rose (2011)
     aka The Dark Rose
The Burning Air (2013)
The Ties That Bind (2014)
He Said / She Said (2017)


Series
Broadchurch (with Chris Chibnall)
1. The End Is Where It Begins (2015)
2. The Letter (2015)
3. Old Friends (2015)
4. Over the Side (2015)
5. Protection (2015)
6. One More Secret (2015)
7. The Leaving of Claire Ripley (2015)
8. Thirteen Hours (2015)
Broadchurch (2014)

14 October 2017

Review: LOST, Michael Robotham - audio book

 Synopsis (Audible)

Detective Inspector Vincent Ruiz is lucky to be alive. A bullet in the leg, another through the hand, he is discovered clinging to a buoy in the River Thames, losing blood and consciousness fast. It takes six days for him to come out of his coma, and when he does, his nightmare is only just beginning. Because Vincent has no recollection of what happened, and nobody believes him.  

From Robotham's website
ON A COLD LONDON NIGHT, HOMICIDE DETECTIVE VINCENT RUIZ IS FISHED OUT OF THE THAMES

with a bullet in his leg and an even bigger hole in his memory. He has no recollection of the shooting or how he finished in the river. The only clue is a photograph found in his pocket of Mickey Carlyle, a seven-year-old girl who went missing three years earlier. A man was convicted of her murder.

But what if the police got it wrong? Ruiz's only hope of unravelling the puzzle is to retrace his steps and re-create the night of the shooting. Under investigation by his colleagues and accused of faking amnesia, he turns to Joe O'Loughlin, a clinical psychologist, who he hopes can unlock his memories. Step by step, they piece together a story of grief, vengeance, and the search for redemption.​


My Take

To be quite honest, in the decade since I first read this book, I've forgotten most of the plot. I do remember that it wasn't quite clear at that stage that Robotham was writing a series - in fact, I am not sure that he himself knew that he was.  The main character of the first book THE SUSPECT was Professor Joe O'Loughlin. Vincent Ruiz was the nasty policeman who arrested Joe on suspicion of murder. And then Ruiz became the central character of LOST and O'Loughlin plays a sort of back up role.

The central theme of the plot in LOST is what Ruiz was doing the night he was shot and nearly drowned in the Thames. He has amnesia, but his memory gradually comes back. Quite clearly other people were shot that night, and might possibly even be dead. Ruiz appears to have been working on his own, and he eventually loses his job as a policeman despite his excellent record.

This book won Michael Robotham the 2005 Ned Kelly Award for best mystery by an Australian author.

I'm listening to audio versions of this series and I'm looking forward to starting THE NIGHT FERRY, which features Detective Constable Alisha Barber, who was Ruiz's offsider in the Met. Check details here.

My rating: 4.8

I've also read
BOMBPROOF
SHATTER #3
SHATTER (audio)
BLEED FOR ME #4
5.0, THE WRECKAGE #5
4.8, SAY YOU'RE SORRY #6
5.0, WATCHING YOU #7
4.8, IF I TELL YOU... I'LL HAVE TO KILL YOU (edit)
5.0, LIFE OR DEATH Shortlisted for the 2015 CWA Gold Dagger
4.8, CLOSE YOUR EYES
5.0, THE SECRETS SHE KEEPS
5.0, THE SUSPECT #1  

Review: THE BEEKEEPER, Stewart Giles

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 1300 KB
  • Print Length: 245 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1912106515
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Joffe Books (May 18, 2017)
  • Publication Date: May 18, 2017
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B072FKXNC8
Synopsis (Amazon)

A shocking discovery starts a trail of mayhem on the Cornish coast.

Alice Green is a beekeeper in the small Cornish village of Polgarrow. She lives with her pet jackdaw in a beautiful cottage not far from the sea. One evening, Alice finds something strange under the hollyhock bush in her garden. The gruesome discovery will change everyone’s lives. And then Alice’s best friend Milly disappears . . .

Detective Harriet Taylor has just transferred to the area from Edinburgh. As she investigates a series of shocking crimes, she grows close to the old beekeeper and is determined to bring the criminals to justice. But who is really what they seem and who can she trust?

A crime mystery with a touch of black humour. You’ll enjoy this fast-paced and dark unearthing of the secrets of a sleepy Cornish village.

My take

This was recommended to me as a lightish read, a cozy, and that is really how I found it.

Three elderly people who were part of a wedding party forty years before all die within the space of a week. And, even though I had my suspicions, the plot kept me guessing almost to the end. The detective, Harriet Taylor is an interesting character, and extra tension arises when she is included in the investigative team when a group of "experts" descend from Exeter because the local team are apparently not getting anywhere.

Alice Green was the fourth member of that wedding party. She is the beekeeper, and her bees have begun producing strange tasting honey, and Alice is worried. She becomes friends with Harriet Taylor and that seems to give her some sort of immunity from suspicion.

I've never read anything before from Stewart Giles and I might just give his other series a try.

My rating: 4.4

About the author
After reading English & Drama at three different English Universities and graduating from none of them, I set off travelling and finally ended up in South Africa, where I still live. I enjoy the serene life running a boat shop on the banks of the Vaal Dam. I came up with the DS Jason Smith idea after my wife dropped a rather large speaker on my head. Whether it was intentional still remains a mystery. Smith, the first in the series was finished in September 2013 and was closely followed by Boomerang and Ladybird. Occam's Razor, Harlequin and Phobia (a series of short stories detailing Smith's early life) were all completed in one hazy 365 days and Selene was done and dusted a few months later. Horsemen, the seventh in the DS Smith thriller series is out now. The Beekeeper, a departure from the DS Smith series will be released through Joffe Books on 22 May. 

11 October 2017

New-to-me authors July to September 2017

I have continued to read a number of new-to-me authors, many really good titles
I have read 33 titles this year, over one third of all the books I have read.
  1. 4.1, Cherringham 1-3, Costello, Neil & Richards, Matthew
  2. 4.2, STORMY COVE, Bernadette Calonego
  3. 4.4, SEE WHAT I HAVE DONE, Sarah Schmidt
  4. 4.6, MASK WARS (aka CRIME ON THE FENS), Joy Ellis
  5. 4.5, A STRANGER IN THE HOUSE, Shari Lapena
  6. 4.3, THREE WEEKS TO SAY GOODBYE, C. J. Box
  7. 4.4, GOODWOOD, Holly Throsby 
  8. 4.4, JOURNEY TO DEATH, Leigh Russell 
  9. 4.4, POSTCARDS FROM THE PAST, Marcia Willett
  10. 4.4, THE UNEXPECTED INHERITANCE OF INSPECTOR CHOPRA, Vaseem Khan
 
 See what others have read.
 

Meme- New to Me Authors - July to September 2017

It's easy to join this meme.

Just write a post about the best new-to-you crime fiction authors (or all) you've read in the period of July to September 2017, put a link to this meme in your post, and even use the logo if you like.
The books don't necessarily need to be newly published.

 After writing your post, then come back to this post and add your link to Mr Linky below. (if Mr Linky does not appear - leave your URL in a comment and I will add to Mr Linky when it comes back up, or I'll add the link to the post)
Visit the links posted by other participants in the meme to discover even more books to read.

This meme will run again at the end of December 2017
 

Review: SOMETIMES I LIE, Alice Feeney

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 1865 KB
  • Print Length: 401 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0008225354
  • Publisher: HQ (March 23, 2017)
  • Publication Date: March 23, 2017
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01LXD38NC
Synopsis (Amazon)

My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me.
1. I’m in a coma
2. My husband doesn’t love me any more
3. Sometimes I lie
Unnerving, twisted and utterly compelling, you won’t be able to put this new thriller down. Set to be the most talked about book in 2017, it’s perfect for fans of Behind Closed Doors, The Girl on the Train and The Widow.

My Take

The story opens on Boxing Day 2016. Amber Reynolds works out that she is in hospital, unable to open her eyes or move. Something very bad has happened and she cannot remember what or when. Two nurses come into the room to look at her and from their conversation Amber works out that she is in a coma.

The story leaps from one time frame to another: first of all back to events one week earlier, then back to present time, then to 1991 when Amber began to write a diary. In 1991 Amber was almost ten, and beginning at a new school. Her Nana has recently died, and her parents argue a lot. A month later at school Amber is sitting next to Taylor who is exactly the same age as her, and they become friends.

The story flits from one time frame to another, and gradually a picture builds of Amber's life over the last 25 years, and then she begins to remember the most recent events that have resulted in her being in a coma.

This became one of those books that I really wanted to race through. I thought initially that a single voice was telling the story, but now I am not so sure. It is one of those books that could probably do with a second reading.

For those thinking of using the book with a reading group there are some searching questions at end for discussion.

My rating: 4.6

About the author
Alice Feeney is a writer and journalist. She spent 16 years at the BBC, where she worked as a Reporter, News Editor, Arts and Entertainment Producer and One O’clock News Producer.

Alice is a Faber Academy graduate from the class of 2016. She has lived in London and Sydney and has now settled in the Surrey countryside, where she lives with her husband and dog.

Sometimes I Lie is her debut thriller and is being published around the world in 2017. 

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