19 January 2020

Review: SIX MINUTES, Petronella McGovern

  • this edition published by Allen & Unwin 2019
  • ISBN 978-1-76087-528-2
  • 424 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (publisher)

How can a child disappear from under the care of four playgroup mums?

One Thursday morning, Lexie Parker dashes to the shop for biscuits, leaving Bella in the safe care of the other mums in the playgroup.

Six minutes later, Bella is gone.

Police and media descend on the tiny village of Merrigang on the edge of Canberra. Locals unite to search the dense bushland. But as the investigation continues, relationships start to fracture, online hate messages target Lexie, and the community is engulfed by fear.

Is Bella's disappearance connected to the angry protests at Parliament House? What secrets are the parents hiding? And why does a local teacher keep a photo of Bella in his lounge room?

What happened in those six minutes and where is Bella?

The clock is ticking…

This gripping novel will keep you guessing to the very last twist.

My Take

We all know of cases of young children who have gone missing in Australia and never been found.

Lexie Parker dashes to the shop across the road from the playgroup and returns just over 6 minutes later to find that 3 year old Bella has gone missing. The other 3 mums have not noticed her absence and the other 4 children are unreliable witnesses. This is a mother's worst nightmare and as the days roll on Lexie feels that it just reinforces what a bad mother she is.

But not everyone is telling the truth about themselves and their background and the reader is required to sift the evidence and to find out their secrets.

The local community rallies to look for Bella through the night, the police are called in, and they are not sure whether one of the parents is not to blame.

Social media is used to spread the word but this also invites the trolls to come out and point the finger at Lexie and her husband.

A really interesting read.

My rating: 4.3

About the author
Petronella McGovern is a writer and editor who grew up on a farm outside Bathurst, NSW. After working in Canberra for a number of years, she now lives on Sydney's northern beaches with her husband and two children.

18 January 2020

Review: THE WAY THROUGH THE WOODS, Colin Dexter - audio book

  • audio book available from Audible
  • Inspector Morse Mysteries, Book 10
  • first published 1992
  • Narrated by: Samuel West
  • Length: 9 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook, released 2017 in English by Macmillan Digital Audio
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

Quietly, rather movingly, Strange was making his plea: 'Christ knows why, Lewis, but Morse will always put himself out for you.' As he put the phone down, Lewis knew that Strange had been right...in the case of the Swedish Maiden, the pair of them were in business again....

They called her the Swedish Maiden - the beautiful young tourist who disappeared on a hot summer's day somewhere in North Oxford. Twelve months later the case remained unsolved - pending further developments.

On holiday in Lyme Regis, Chief Inspector Morse is startled to read a tantalising article in The Times about the missing woman. An article which lures him back to Wytham Woods near Oxford...and straight into the most extraordinary murder investigation of his career.

My take

This series, so skilfully narrated by Samuel West, just gets better and better.

The novels really are "academic" crime fiction. The plots are never straight forward, and the actual plots do differ a little from the television series. And, as I've said before, Morse is a little different in a number of ways from the character that John Thaw created for television.

Morse is presented warts and all, at times adamantly sure he is correct when he is absolutely wrong. He is a womaniser, definitely a bachelor, not particularly healthy.

I remembered the basic plot of this book but that didn't reduce my enjoyment of it.

If you want a reading project for 2020 then you could do worse than reading the Morse series from beginning to end, either in print, or as an audio. I have added the complete list for you at the bottom of this post. My recommendation is to read them in order.

BTW this is the one where Max the pathologist is replaced by Laura Hobson after Max dies from a  massive heart attack.

My rating: 4.8

I've also read
4.3, INSPECTOR MORSE: BBB Radio Collection
4.5, THE SECRET OF ANNEXE THREE -audio book #7
4.6, THE WENCH IS DEAD- audio book #8
4.3, SERVICE OF ALL THE DEAD - audio book #4
4.4, LAST SEEN WEARING  - audio book #2
4.6, THE RIDDLE OF THE THIRD MILE - audio book #6
4.6, THE JEWEL THAT WAS OURS - audio book #9

Inspector Morse
   1. Last Bus to Woodstock (1975)
   2. Last Seen Wearing (1976)
   3. The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn (1977)
   4. Service of All the Dead (1979)
   5. The Dead of Jericho (1981)
   6. The Riddle of the Third Mile (1983)
   7. The Secret of Annexe 3 (1986)
   8. The Wench Is Dead (1989)
   9. The Jewel That Was Ours (1991)
   10. The Way Through the Woods (1992)
   11. The Daughters of Cain (1994)
   12. Death Is Now My Neighbour (1996)
   13. The Remorseful Day (1999)

15 January 2020

Review: THE BUTTERFLY ROOM, Lucinda Riley

  • this edition published by Macmillan 2019
  • ISBN781529-014990
  • 628 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (publisher)

Posy Montague is approaching her seventieth birthday. Still living in her beautiful family home, Admiral House, set in the glorious Suffolk countryside where she spent her own idyllic childhood catching butterflies with her beloved father, and raised her own children, Posy knows she must make an agonising decision. Despite the memories the house holds, and the exquisite garden she has spent twenty-five years creating, the house is crumbling around her, and Posy knows the time has come to sell it.

Then a face appears from the past - Freddie, her first love, who abandoned her and left her heartbroken fifty years ago. Already struggling to cope with her son Sam's inept business dealings, and the sudden reappearance of her younger son Nick after ten years in Australia, Posy is reluctant to trust in Freddie's renewed affection. And unbeknown to Posy, Freddie - and Admiral House - have a devastating secret to reveal . . .

My Take:

This is an engrossing standalone. Although not my usual fare of crime fiction, it certainly contains many little mysteries to hold the reader's attention.

The story opens in June 1943 when 6 year old Posy is chasing butterflies in the garden of Admiral House with her father who is a renowned pilot. By the end of the war her father is dead and Posy is living with her grandmother. After the war he mother goes to live in France, and then in Italy but she and Posy never meet and Posy does not understand why? Can her mother hat her so much?

The novel takes us through various stages of Posy's life until her 70th birthday approaches and she sees someone who takes her back nearly 50 years .

An excellent read.

My rating: 4.6

I've also read

13 January 2020

Review: WHO KILLED RUBY? Camilla Way

Synopsis (publisher)

You never know what’s going on behind closed doors…

If you passed it on the street, you’d see an ordinary London townhouse. You might wonder about the people who live there, assume they’re just like you.

But inside a family is trapped in a nightmare. In the kitchen, a man lies dead on the blood-soaked floor. Soon the police will come, and they’ll want answers.

Perhaps they'll believe the family’s version of events – that this man is a murderer who deserved to die.

My Take

Thirty two years ago Vivienne's sister Ruby, aged just 14, and heavily pregnant, was killed by her boyfriend. Vivienne was just 8 and her testimony was responsible for putting Ruby's boyfriend Jack behind bars for over 20 years.

Jack insisted he was innocent and his family persecuted Vivienne and her mother Stella. Jack is now out of gaol and it is the anniversary of Ruby's death.

Vivienne has moved on, rebuilt her life, and has her own daughter who is nearly 14, but she still has nightmares almost every night, featuring her sister's killer, but she never sees his face.

This is a tightly plotted page turner and it won't be the only book by this author that I will read.

My rating: 4.5

About the author
Camilla Way was born in Greenwich, south-east London in 1973. Her father was the poet and author Peter Way. After attending Woolwich College she studied modern English and French literature at the University of Glamorgan. Formerly Associate Editor of the teenage girls' magazine Bliss, she is currently an editor and writer on the men's style magazine Arena. Having lived in Cardiff, Bristol, Bath and Clerkenwell, she now lives in south-east London.

12 January 2020

Review: THE PASSENGERS, John Marrs

  • this edition published by Penguin UK 2019
  • ISBN 978-1-78-503888-4
  • 406 pages
  • source: my local library

Synopsis (publisher)

Eight self-drive cars set on a collision course. Who lives, who dies? You decide.

When someone hacks into the systems of eight self-drive cars, their passengers are set on a fatal collision course.

The passengers are: a TV star, a pregnant young woman, a disabled war hero, an abused wife fleeing her husband, an illegal immigrant, a husband and wife - and parents of two - who are travelling in separate vehicles and a suicidal man. Now the public have to judge who should survive but are the passengers all that they first seem?

My take
    House of Lords votes unanimously in favour of driverless vehicles on British roads within five years. Ban on non-autonomous vehicles within a decade.
Driverless buses introduced in Australia 2019
Within minutes of beginning their journeys in autonomous driverless vehicles, 8 Passengers notice that the coordinates of their destination have been changed, and a voice tells them that in 2 hours and 30 minutes they will very likely be dead.

Libby Dixon is not in car however. She is beginning the second day of jury duty with a panel that looks at vehicle accidents in which driverless vehicles have been involved. The previous day had made her very angry. The rest of the panel were permanent employees who all knew each other and were all dismissive of any contribution to discussion that Libby tried to make.

The panel uses video footage of accidents to make their decisions. Shortly after they begin on the second day, their video screens are taken over, and begin to show the 8 driverless cars on their way to the undisclosed destination, and a voice, the Hacker, tells they will need to decide who will live.

Video thumbnails from each of the vehicles are displayed on the screens and the Passengers are introduced.

An engrossing read.  Related to the role of Artificial Intelligence in our technologies. But also related to reality TV and the technologies like Twitter and Instagram that we use to assess public opinion.

There were several reference to the underlying theme of Marrs' earlier novel 4.6, THE ONE (that was the one about matching DNA) but that doesn't spoil the possibility of reading THE PASSENGERS as a stand-alone

My rating: 4.8

I've also read
4.6, THE ONE 

11 January 2020

10 January 2020

Review: THE FAMILY UPSTAIRS, Lisa Jewell

  • this edition published by century 2019
  • ISBN 978-1-780-899206
  • 446 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Booktopia)

In a large house in London’s fashionable Chelsea, a baby is awake in her cot. Well-fed and cared for, she is happily waiting for someone to pick her up.

In the kitchen lie three decomposing corpses. Close to them is a hastily scrawled note.

They’ve been dead for several days.

Who has been looking after the baby?

And where did they go?

Two entangled families.
A house with the darkest of secrets.

My Take

One of the incredible things about this book is the variety of narrators.

First of all, in the first person, someone whose identity we eventually come to surmise, more by a process of elimination.
Then the story of Libby, the baby who has now turned 25, and learns that she has inherited a mansion in Chelsea, that has lain empty for nearly her whole life.
Then Lucy's story. At first we are not sure who Lucy is, but clearly she is important.
And then Miller Roe, a journalist who recently wrote an article about the events that occurred in the mansion in Chelsea.

At first the reader has to deduce the narrator from clues given in the context, but eventually recognition of who has taken over the story becomes automatic.

The threads of the narration weave together, the story bubbles along, and we learn finally the truth of what happened in 16 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea.

My rating: 4.7

I've also read
4.6, I FOUND YOU  


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