7 December 2023

Review: A LESSON IN MALICE, Catherine Kirwan

  • this edition from my local library
  • published by HACHETTE BOOKS Ireland 2023
  • ISBN 978-1-5293-8143-6
  • 456 pages

Synopsis (Publisher)

She said yes to a dinner invitation. Now she's a murder suspect ...

A visit to her old university takes an unexpected turn for solicitor Finn Fitzpatrick when she receives an exclusive invitation. She is far from high profile on the legal scene, so why is she on the guestlist for a select gathering in the College president's private dining room?

Three days later, a body is discovered on College grounds. And, as the police launch their hunt for the killer, everyone who was dinner that night falls under suspicion. Including Finn.

Soon, she's investigating the murder, unearthing the bitter rivalries and hidden agendas lurking beneath the success of her fellow dinner guests. As the mysteries and revelations pile up, Finn finds herself keeping secrets from those around her - but at what cost? 

My Take

This is the second novel featuring Cork solicitor Finn Fitzpatrick.

It seems that the high profile speaker from Australia, a graduate originally from Cork University, with a reputation for womanising, came to the conference intending to speak to Finn. But circumstances got in the way and they never had a chance to talk and now he is dead. Finn has not been able to work out why she was invited to speak anyway, but now she finds herself as the liaison between the university and the police. 

And then some unexpected news results in her being arrested and investigated.

I obviously didn't find the book as captivating as some of those whose blurbs appear on the cover. Nevertheless it took me into a world and a setting with which I was not familiar.

My rating: 4.4

About the author
Catherine Kirwan grew up in the parish of Fews, County Waterford. She studied law at University College Cork and she now lives in Cork City where she works as a solicitor.
This is her second novel

1 December 2023

Review, SLEEPING MURDER, Agatha Christie

  • This edition read on Kindle (Amazon)
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B004BDOTLS
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ HarperCollins; Masterpiece Ed edition (October 14, 2010)
  • Originally published 1976 (Miss Marple's last case, written about 35 years earlier)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 257 pages 
  • My earlier review 

Synopsis (Amazon

A strange house
A ghost from the past

As soon as she moves into Hillside, Gwenda knows there’s something strange about this house.

A sealed room. A hidden door. The apparition of a young woman being strangled.

But strangest of all – this all seems quite familiar.

As her friend Jane Marple investigates, the answer seems to lie in a crime committed nearly twenty years ago.

The killer may have gotten away with murder. But Miss Marple is never far behind.

Never underestimate Miss Marple

My Take

I have of course read this earlier, but have re-read it for discussion with my U3A Agatha Christie Reading group.  I think they will enjoy the read. I think this is one of the best Marple stories.

Despite the advice not to investigate Gwenda and her husband decide try to work out what Gwenda's vague memories of the house she has recently bought actually mean. 

I particularly liked the description of Miss Marple.
Miss Marple was an attractive old lady, tall and thin, with pink cheeks and blue eyes, and a gentle, rather fussy manner. Her blue eyes often had a little twinkle in them.

There are no signs that this was actually written during World War II and stored for later publication. Certainly no signs that it was meant to be Miss Marple's last case.

My rating: 4.7

My Agatha Christie book reviews

Review: THE BREAKDOWN, B.A.Paris

  • This edition made available as an e-book on Libby by my local library
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ St. Martin's Press (18 July 2017)
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1250122465
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1250122469

Synopsis (Amazon)

If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods. It was on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, and a woman was sitting inside―the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm, and she probably would have been hurt herself if she’d stopped. Not only that, her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home.

But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing. Where she left the car; if she took her pills; even the alarm code.

The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.

And the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her…

My Take

Cass Anderson is haunted that her mother suffered from early onset dementia and is worried that she is going the same way. She seems to forget so much: online shopping that she's done, arrangements inviting people to a meal, her purse when she goes shopping, where she parked her car, and so much more.

She is lucky her husband and her best friend are so supportive isn't she? But then she visits a doctor who puts her on pills, and instead of getting better, she seems to be getting worse.

And then there is the murder of the woman in the car, and Cass is worried that the murderer is stalking her.

A nailbiter of a book, with a resolution you won't expect. 

This is another author to watch.

My rating: 4.6 

I've also read


  •  This edition read on my Kindle (Amazon)
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B088WPHCS7
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Allison & Busby (December 10, 2020)
  • AKA ENEMY ACTION, published 2017
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 450 pages 
  • #3 in the Blitz Detective series

Synopsis  (Amazon)

September, 1940. With London having endured the Blitz for nearly a month, people are calling for vengeance, but once again the night heralds more destruction. 

In Custom House, anxious residents dutifully head to the nearest public air-raid shelter as the warning siren wails.

When dawn brings the all-clear, people disperse, but one man remains - he is dead, stabbed through the heart. Detective Inspector John Jago discovers that the victim was a pacifist. But why, then, was he carrying a loaded revolver in his pocket?

My Take

There are several aspects of this series that I am enjoying: the historical setting that appears to be well researched; the credible plots; the well fleshed characters, and the side stories involving these characters.

This really is a series which needs to be read from the beginning, well worth the effort.

My rating: 4.5

I've already read





  • this edition provided by my local library
  • Harper Large print published August 2023
  • 496 pages
  • ISBN 9-780063-322899

 Synopsis (Publisher)

From the author of the Reese's Book Club Pick and the New York Times bestseller Wrong Place Wrong Time comes a new heart-stopping thriller in which a missing-person case unravels deeper, darker secrets that lead a detective to an impossible moral choice.

Not everyone who is lost should be found...

Twenty-two-year-old Olivia has been missing for one day...and counting. She was last seen on CCTV, entering a dead-end alley. And not coming back out again.

Julia, the detective heading up the search for Olivia, thinks she knows what to expect. A desperate family, a ticking clock, and long hours away from her husband and daughter. But she has no idea just how close to home this case is going to get.

Because the criminal at the heart of the disappearance has something she never expected. His weapon isn't a gun, or a knife: it's a secret. Her worst one. And her family's safety depends on one thing: Julia must NOT find out what happened to Olivia - and must frame somebody else for her murder.

If you find her, you will lose everything. What would you do?

This clever and endlessly surprising thriller is laced with a clever look at family and motherhood, and cements Gillian McAllister as a major talent in the world of suspense and a master of creating ethical dilemmas that show just how murky the distinction between right and wrong can be.

My Take

Julia is a detective who does everything by the books, dots the i's and crosses the t's, always. But in her past lies a mistake just waiting to trip her up.

Missing persons is her speciality and the case of Olivia seems much like any other. But is it? She is captured on CCTV walking into a dead end alley, and then she disappears. No trace, no blood. Nothing.  As the days count down, no clues, except something that a masked man gives Julia.

There are a lot of surprises in this plot.

There are a number of new authors around this year. Here is another to watch, and catch up on.

My rating: 4.5 

About the Author

Gillian McAllister is the New York Times bestselling author of Reese's Book Club Pick Wrong Place Wrong Time, Just Another Missing Person, Everything but the Truth, The Choice, The Good Sister, The Evidence Against You, How to Disappear, and the Richard & Judy Book Club pick That Night. She graduated with an English degree before working as a lawyer. She lives in Birmingham, England, where she now writes full-time. She is also the creator and co-host of the popular Honest Authors podcast.

25 November 2023

Review: TREASURE & DIRT, Chris Hammer

  • this edition read as an e-book on my Kindle (Amazon)
  • Imprint:Allen & UnwiN
  • Pub Date:30 Aug 2022
  • Page Extent:536

Synopsis (Publisher)

An unputdownable standalone thriller from the bestselling author of Scrublands.
In the desolate outback town of Finnigans Gap, police struggle to maintain law and order. Thieves pillage opal mines, religious fanatics recruit vulnerable young people and billionaires do as they please.

Then an opal miner is found crucified and left to rot down his mine. Nothing about the miner's death is straightforward, not even who found the body. Sydney homicide detective Ivan Lucic is sent to investigate, assisted by inexperienced young investigator Nell Buchanan.

But Finnigans Gap has already ended one police career and damaged others, and soon both officers face damning allegations and internal investigations. Have Ivan and Nell been set up and, if so, by whom?

As time runs out, their only chance at redemption is to find the killer. But the more secrets they uncover, the more harrowing the mystery becomes, as events from years ago take on a startling new significance.

For in Finnigans Gap, opals, bodies and secrets don't stay buried forever. 

My Take

I have already reviewed this book, but have re-read it for a discussion with my U3A Crime Fiction readers group.

I must confess that I began reading it as a printed paperback but swapped over about halfway through to a copy that I already had on my Kindle.

Last time I wrote "A book with many themes, a very harsh environment, where the miners themselves struggle to make a living, and a virtual pageant of quirky characters." and I was struck again by the fact that, while there is the central plot of the crucified opal miner, there are a large number of mini plots.  It is also a novel where the Australian outback setting plays a strong role.

If you are looking for something that has strong Australian flavour, then this is it.

My rating: 4.7

I've also read

19 November 2023

120 books today

 A milestone today. 

120 books read for my 2023 Good Reads Challenge.


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