21 October 2018

Review: SCRUBLANDS, Chris Hammer

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 2387 KB
  • Print Length: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Allen & Unwin (July 25, 2018)
  • Publication Date: July 25, 2018
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B079Z1VHZL
Synopsis (Amazon)

In an isolated (Australian) country town brought to its knees by endless drought, a charismatic and dedicated young priest calmly opens fire on his congregation, killing five parishioners before being shot dead himself.

A year later, troubled journalist Martin Scarsden arrives in Riversend to write a feature on the anniversary of the tragedy. But the stories he hears from the locals about the priest and incidents leading up to the shooting don't fit with the accepted version of events his own newspaper reported in an award-winning investigation. Martin can't ignore his doubts, nor the urgings of some locals to unearth the real reason behind the priest's deadly rampage.

Just as Martin believes he is making headway, a shocking new development rocks the town, which becomes the biggest story in Australia. The media descends on Riversend and Martin is now the one in the spotlight. His reasons for investigating the shooting have suddenly become very personal.

Wrestling with his own demons, Martin finds himself risking everything to discover a truth that becomes darker and more complex with every twist. But there are powerful forces determined to stop him, and he has no idea how far they will go to make sure the town's secrets stay buried.

My Take:

This novel surprised me with the complexity of the plot.  It weaves a number of contemporary threads into the narrative. Some of these are revealed only as Martin Scarsend begins to investigate the ongoing impact of the tragic events that took place in Riversend nearly a year earlier.

Scarsend himself is "damaged goods" but his boss has sent him to write a human interest story which will perhaps help him get over the trauma he has suffered. Nothing prepares him for the heat of the drought stricken town and for the fact that no-one can tell him why the priest shot five locals.

My rating: 4.7

About the author

Christopher Hammer lives in Australia and has been a journalist for over twenty-five years. He has been an international correspondent, the chief political correspondent for The Bulletin, and a senior political journalist for The Age.

15 October 2018

Review: GALLOWS COURT, Martin Edwards

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 1094 KB
  • Publisher: Head of Zeus (September 6, 2018)
  • Publication Date: September 6, 2018
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B079GXJPC8
Synopsis (publisher)

LONDON, 1930.

Sooty, sulphurous, and malign: no woman should be out on a night like this . A spate of violent deaths – the details too foul to print – has horrified the capital and the smog-bound streets are deserted. But Rachel Savernake – the enigmatic daughter of a notorious hanging judge – is no ordinary woman. To Scotland Yard's embarrassment, she solved the Chorus Girl Murder, and now she's on the trail of another killer.

Jacob Flint, a young newspaperman temporarily manning The Clarion's crime desk, is looking for the scoop that will make his name. He's certain there is more to the Miss Savernake's amateur sleuthing than meets the eye. He's not the only one. His predecessor on the crime desk was of a similar mind – not that Mr Betts is ever expected to regain consciousness after that unfortunate accident...

Flint's pursuit of Rachel Savernake will draw him ever- deeper into a labyrinth of deception and corruption. Murder-by-murder, he'll be swept ever-closer to its dark heart – to that ancient place of execution, where it all began and where it will finally end: Gallows Court.

My take

At the centre of this novel are two characters: Jacob Flint, a young newspaperman working for The Clarion, a sensationalist daily; and Rachel Savernake, an incredibly wealthy amateur sleuth, the daughter of a judge renowned for his severe punishment and reputed to be mad at the end.

We know there is some sort of mystery surrounding Rachel Savernake right from the beginning. We are told so in a journal entry written in 1919 by a Juliet Brentano recording the death of her parents. Subsequent diary entries crop up in the novel and we attempt to reconcile the Rachel Savernake she writes about with the one we meet through Jacob Flint.

Jacob has come to head the Clarion's crime desk rather earlier than expected because his boss has been run down by a car and is not expected to live. Jacob is convinced that what happened was no accident and he attempts to work out what Mr Betts was investigating. Everything seems to lead to Rachel Savernake.

This was a challenging read, and even at the end when I thought I had worked everything out, how wrong I was!

Fantastic Fiction suggests this novel is the first in a series centred on Jacob Flint.

My rating: 4.5

A review from Cross Examining Crime

I've also read
MYSTERIOUS PLEASURES
THE ARSENIC LABYRINTH
THE SERPENT POOL
WATERLOO SUNSET
DANCING FOR THE HANGMAN
4.8, THE HANGING WOOD
4.6, THE FROZEN SHROUD
4.5, M.O. CRIMES OF PRACTICE (edit)
4.3, TAKE MY BREATH AWAY
4.3, SERPENTS IN EDEN (edit)
4.5, MOTIVES FOR MURDER(edit) 

About the author

Martin Edwards is an Edgar award-winning crime writer whose seventh and most recent Lake District Mystery is The Dungeon House. Earlier books in the series are The Coffin Trail (short-listed for the Theakston's prize for best British crime novel of 2006), The Cipher Garden, The Arsenic Labyrinth (short-listed for the Lakeland Book of the Year award in 2008), The Serpent Pool, and The Hanging Wood.

Martin is a well-known crime fiction critic, and series consultant to the British Library's Crime Classics. His ground-breaking study of the genre between the wars, The Golden Age of Murder, has been warmly reviewed around the world. it has won the Edgar, Agatha and H.R.F. Keating awards, and is currently shortlisted for Anthony, Macavity, and CWA Dagger awards.

Martin has written eight novels about lawyer Harry Devlin, the first of which, All the Lonely People, was short-listed for the CWA John Creasey Memorial Dagger for the best first crime novel of the year, The early Devlin books are now enjoying a fresh life as ebooks, with new introductions by leading authors such as Val McDermid and Frances Fyfield, as well as other new material.

In addition Martin has written a stand-alone novel of psychological suspense, Take My Breath Away, and a much acclaimed novel featuring Dr Crippen, Dancing for the Hangman. The latest Devlin novel, Waterloo Sunset, appeared in 2008. He completed Bill Knox's last book, The Lazarus Widow. He has published many short stories, including the ebooks The New Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes and Acknowledgments and other stories. 'Test Drive' was short-listed for the CWA Short Story Dagger in 2006, while 'The Bookbinder's Apprentice' won the same Dagger in 2008.

A well-known commentator on crime fiction, he has edited 28 anthologies and published diverse non-fiction books, including a study of homicide investigation, Urge to Kill.An expert on crime fiction history, he is archivist of both the Crime Writers' Association and the Detection Club. He was elected eighth President of the Detection Club in 2015, and posts regularly to his blog, 'Do You Write Under Your Own Name?

10 October 2018

Milestone 100!

Yesterday I recorded my 100th book read this year. Doing well, as I had only aimed at 110.

You may be interested in how that count looks statistically, because it really indicates what I am reading:
British authors: 56
Library books : 52
New-to-me authors: 41
e-books: 22
Audio books: 18
American authors: 18
Australian Authors: 16

Almost nothing other than crime fiction, of course.

If you are interested in the nitty gritty then visit Reading Challenges Updates.


9 October 2018

Review: FINAL CUT (Cherringham 17), Matthew Costello, Neil Richards - audio book

  • from Audible
  • Narrated by: Neil Dudgeon
  • Length: 2 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 12-22-17
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Lübbe Audio
Synopsis ( Audible)

When a big movie production comes to Cherringham, complete with lords, ladies, and flashing swords, the whole village is abuzz with excitement. But when a series of dangerous accidents threatens the life of the young lead, Zoe Harding, Sarah and Jack get involved. Are these really accidents? Or could they be something more sinister - even deadly? Who is trying to destroy the career of the beautiful young star - and why?

Cherringham is a serial novel à la Charles Dickens, with a new mystery thriller released each month. Set in the sleepy English village of Cherringham, the detective series brings together an unlikely sleuthing duo: English web designer Sarah and American ex-cop Jack. Thrilling and deadly - but with a spot of tea - it's like Rosamunde Pilcher meets Inspector Barnaby. Each of the self-contained episodes is a quick listen for the morning commute, while waiting for the doctor, or when curling up with a hot cuppa.

My Take

Judging by my fellow listener's reaction to the ending of this episode in the Cherringham series, I might have "done my dash" here for a while. While the plot was fine, the motives behind the series of accidents threatening Zoe Harding were a bit far-fetched, and in the long run, the ending was a disappointing and a bit lame.

The stories are beginning to remind me too much of Midsomer coincidences.

My rating: 3.8

I've also listened to
4.1, Cherringham 1-3
4.3, THE LAST PUZZLE, Cherringham 16
4.2, SECRET SANTA, Cherringham 25 

Review: IN THE SHADOW OF AGATHA CHRISTIE: Classic Crime Fiction by Forgotten Female Writers: 1850-1917, Leslie S. Klinger (edit)

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 3741 KB
  • Print Length: 323 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1681776308
  • Publisher: Pegasus Books (January 2, 2018)
  • Publication Date: January 2, 2018
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B074D4M6WR
Synopsis  (Amazon)

Before Agatha Christie became the world’s Queen of Crime, she stood on the talented shoulders of the female crime authors who came before her. This splendid new anthology by Leslie S. Klinger brings these exceptional writers out of Christie’s shadow and back into the spotlight they deserve.

Agatha Christie is undoubtedly the world’s best-selling mystery author, hailed as the “Queen of Crime,” with worldwide sales in the billions. Christie burst onto the literary scene in 1920, with The Mysterious Affair at Styles; her last novel was published in 1976, a career longer than even Conan Doyle’s forty-year span.

The truth is that it was due to the success of writers like Anna Katherine Green in America; L. T. Meade, C. L. Pirkis, the Baroness Orczy, and Elizabeth Corbett in England; and Mary Fortune in Australia that the doors were finally opened for women crime-writers. Authors who followed them, such as Patricia Wentworth, Dorothy Sayers, and, of course, Agatha Christie would not have thrived without the bold, fearless work of their predecessors—and the genre would be much poorer for their absence. So while Agatha Christie may still reign supreme, it is important to remember that she did not ascend that throne except on the shoulders of the women who came before her—and inspired her—and who are now removed from her shadow once and for all by this superb new anthology by Leslie S. Klinger.

Featuring: Mary Fortune, Harriet Prescott Spofford, Ellen Wood, Elizabeth Corbett, C. L. Pirkis, Geraldine Bonner, Ellen Glasgow, L. T. Meade, Baroness Orczy, Augusta Großer, M. E. Graddon, Anna Katherine Green, Carolyn Wells, Susan Glashell

My Take

The thing that struck me as I read the small biographies for each of these pre-Golden Age female crime fiction writers was how prolific they were, how many novels each one of them had written, how much choice late Victorian readers would have had.

Most of them were British, and from a 21st century perspective, many of them were Victorian and rather wordy even cumbersome in style. Agatha Christie would have felt like a breath of fresh air. I don't think I had realised how different readers in 1920 would have found THE MYSTERIOUS AFFAIR AT STYLES.

But these writers paved the way for crime fiction by female writers as an acceptable, if not quite literary, genre.

An interesting and educative anthology.

My rating: 4.3

About the author
Leslie S. Klinger is one of the world’s foremost authorities on Sherlock Holmes. He is the editor of the three-volume The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes. The first two volumes, The Complete Short Stories, won the Edgar for “Best Critical/Biographical” work. He is also the editor of the hugely successful The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft. Klinger is a member of the Baker Street Irregulars and lives in Malibu, California.

8 October 2018

Review: THE FRENCH GIRL, Lexie Elliott

  • this edition published by Corvus 2018
  • ISBN 9-781786-495549
  • 296 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

Everyone has a secret...

They were six university students from Oxford - friends and sometimes more than friends - spending an idyllic week together in a French farmhouse. It was supposed to be the perfect summer getaway...until they met Severine, the girl next door.

But after a huge altercation on the last night of the holiday, Kate Channing knew nothing would ever be the same. There are some things you can't forgive. And there are some people you can't forget...like Severine, who was never seen again.

A decade later, the case is reopened when Severine's body is found behind the farmhouse. Questioned along with her friends, Kate stands to lose everything she's worked so hard to achieve as suspicion mounts all around her. Desperate to resolve her unreliable memories and fearful she will be forever bound to the memory of the woman who still haunts her, Kate finds herself entangled within layers of deception with no one to set her free...

My Take

Who can remember exactly what happened ten years ago?

After Kate and her friends returned to England and new careers after their holiday in France, Severine, the girl next door to where they stayed, was declared missing. They were all interviewed at the time to establish a timeline of when Severine was last seen, but she was never found.

Now her bones have been found down a well on the property they were staying in. One of their group has died in the war in Afghanistan and the rest have been apart establishing their careers. A policeman has come from France to interview them again, and Kate is made to feel that she is under suspicion. The policeman advises that she should "get a lawyer".

Events occurred that night that fractured their group forever and the real significance of some events has never been explored.

There is a paranormal element to this story that plays a significant role, but I didn't much like it.

My Rating: 4.4

About the author

LEXIE ELLIOTT grew up in Scotland, at the foot of the Highlands. She graduated from Oxford University, where she obtained a doctorate in Theoretical Physics. A keen sportswoman, she works in fund management in London, where she lives with her husband and two sons. The rest of her time is spent writing, or thinking about writing, and juggling family life and sport.

3 October 2018

Review: A QUIVER FULL OF ARROWS, Jeffrey Archer

  • this edition published Pan Books 2013
  • ISBN 978-1-5098-0729-1
  • 266 pages
Synopsis (publisher)

Quiver Full of Arrows is a collection of twelve exciting short stories from bestselling author, Jeffrey Archer.

Two friends fall under the spell of a New York beauty – with an unexpected outcome. A casual remark is taken seriously by a Chinese sculptor, and the British Ambassador becomes the owner of a priceless work of art . An insurance claims adviser has a most surprising encounter on the train home to Sevenoaks.

This marvellous collection of twelve stories ends with a hauntingly written, atmospheric account of two undergraduates at Oxford in the 1930s, a tale of bitter rivalry that ends in a memorable love story.

My Take

Stories in this collection
  • The Chinese Statue
  • The Luncheon
  • The Coup
  • The First Miracle
  • The Perfect Gentleman
  • One-Night Stand
  • The Century
  • Broken Routine
  • Henry's Hiccup
  • A Matter of Principle
  • The Hungarian Professor
  • Old Love
Followers of my blog will have noticed a penchant for Jeffrey Archer short stories just recently.
That is simply because they are so good. Sometimes mystery, sometimes just simply quirky, all with marvellously drawn characters.

In this collection Archer says that 11 of the stories are based on known incidents and only one is totally the result of his own imagination. Each of them is 20-30 pages long. Just right for a bit of night time distraction.

My calculation now is that I have read at least 60 short stories by Archer and he really is the master.

My rating: 4.5

The other collections I've read
A TWIST IN THE TALE
4.7, TELL TALE
4.6, CAT O'NINE TALES
4.5, TWELVE RED HERRINGS 

Review: TWELVE RED HERRINGS, Jeffrey Archer - audio book

  • audio book from Audible.com
  • Narrated by: Alec McCowen
  • Length: 5 hrs and 28 mins
  • Abridged Audiobook
    Release date: 06-01-07
    Collection printed 1994
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Pan Macmillan Publishers Ltd.
Synopsis (Audible.com)

An imprisoned man is certain that his supposed murder victim is very much alive; a female driver is pursued relentlessly by a menacing figure in another vehicle; a young artist gets the biggest break of her career; a restless beauty manages the perfect birthday celebration; an escaped Iraqi on Saddam Hussein's death list pays an involuntary visit to his homeland. How will they react? How would you?

Twelve Red Herrings is the third collection of irresistible short stories from a master storyteller. Cleverly styled, with richly drawn characters and ingeniously plotted story lines, each of the 12 tales ends with a delightfully unexpected turn of events.

From Wikipedia
The book contains 12 stories.
  • "Trial and Error"
  • "Cheap at Half The Price"*
  • "Dougie Mortimer's Right Arm"*
  • "Do Not Pass Go"*
  • "Chunnel Vision"*
  • "Shoeshine Boy"*
  • "You'll Never Live to Regret It"*
  • "Never Stop on the Motorway"*
  • "Not for Sale"
  • "Timeo Danaos"*
  • "An Eye for an Eye"*
  • "One Man's Meat..."
In the preface the author notes that the stories indicated with an asterisk are "based on known incidents (some of them embellished with considerable licence)."


My Take

Once again a batch of short stories, involving some mysteries, but most are on the edge of crime fiction.
This audio production makes good listening particularly as the narration by Alec McCowen is so well done. Each of the stories has an unexpected twist in the final moments.

My rating:4.5

I've also reviewed
A TWIST IN THE TALE
4.7, TELL TALE
4.6, CAT O'NINE TALES 
They are all collections of short stories.

What I read in September 2018

Pick of the Month 2018
I seem to have slowed down a bit with my reading in the last month - some of the books were a little longer.
  1. 4.3, THE CELTIC STONE, Nick Hawkes
  2. 4.4, THE PARIS SECRET, Karen Swan
  3. 4.8, THE SHROUDED PATH, Sarah Ward 
  4. 4.6, CAT O'NINE TALES, Jeffrey Archer - audio book
  5. 4.4, THE BURNING CHAMBERS, Kate Mosse 
  6. 4.5, BRING ME BACK, B. A. Paris
  7. 4.5, ODD CHILD OUT, Gilly Macmillan 
  8. 4.6, DARK WATER, Robert Bryndza
  9. 4.4, THE WIFE BETWEEN US, Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen  
My pick of the month was THE SHROUDED PATH by Sarah Ward

See what others have read this month

1 October 2018

Pick of the Month September 2018

Crime Fiction Pick of the Month 2018
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 September 2018, 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 -
e.g.
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.


30 September 2018

New to me authors - July to September 2018

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 2018, 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 2018
 

Review: THE WIFE BETWEEN US, Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekannen

  • this edition published by St Martin's Press 2018
  • ISBN 978-1509842827
  • 346 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (St Martin's Press)

When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.
You will assume you are reading about a jealous ex-wife.
You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement – a beautiful, younger woman who is about to marry the man they both love.
You will assume you know the anatomy of this tangled love triangle.
Assume nothing.

Twisted and deliciously chilling, Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen's The Wife Between Us exposes the secret complexities of an enviable marriage - and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love.

My Take

There are a number of little puzzles for the reader to solve from the very beginning of this novel. While the narrator is mainly Richard Thompson's ex-wife the authors played around with the time line so nothing is straightforward. The plot darts back and forth across events from before Richard and Nellie met until well after their marriage has collapsed.

But the truth of why the marriage collapsed and what Nellie is up to are far from simple.

This is an engrossing thriller. Well worth the read.
 
My rating: 4.4

About the authors
GREER HENDRICKS is the coauthor of the New York Times bestseller The Wife Between Us. Prior to becoming a novelist, she spent two decades as an editor at Simon & Schuster. She obtained her master's degree in journalism from Columbia University, and her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Allure, and Publishers Weekly. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and two children.

SARAH PEKKANEN is the internationally and USA Today bestselling author of eight previous solo novels and the coauthor of the New York Times bestseller The Wife Between Us. A former investigative journalist and award-winning feature writer, she has published work in The Washington Post, USA Today, and many others. She is the mother of three sons and lives just outside Washington, D.C.

25 September 2018

Review: DARK WATER, Robert Bryndza

  • this edition published by Sphere in 2016
  • ISBN 978-0-7515-7148-6
  • 352 pages
  • #3 in the Erika Foster series
  • author website
Synopsis (author website)

Beneath the water the body sank rapidly.  She would lie still and undisturbed for many years but above her on dry land, the nightmare was just beginning.

When Detective Erika Foster receives a tip off that key evidence for a major narcotics case was stashed in a disused quarry on the outskirts of London, she orders for it to be searched. From the thick sludge the drugs are recovered, but so is the skeleton of a young child.

The remains are quickly identified as seven-year-old Jessica Collins.  The missing girl who made headline news when she vanished twenty-six years ago.

As Erika tries to piece together new evidence with the old, she discovers a family harbouring secrets, a detective plagued by her failure to find Jessica, and the mysterious death of a man living by the quarry.

Is the suspect someone close to home? Someone doesn’t want this case solved. And they’ll do anything to stop Erika from finding the truth.

My Take

Twenty six years after she disappeared on her way to a friend's birthday party only a few houses away from home Jessica Collins' skeleton is discovered in a flooded quarry only a mile from her home. The quarry had been searched without success during the search for Jessica. Eventually the police charged a paedophile living nearby but he had an alibi and successfully sued the police for damages. The case remained unsolved and the detective in charge had a breakdown and took early retirement.

Detective Erika Foster determines that she will solve this case once the skeleton is identified, but is advised by her seniors that this is a poisoned chalice. It is a cold case that could really end up going nowhere. She is determined to investigate every possible avenue, going right back to the beginning.

Once she interviews what remains of Jessica's family, someone else begins to watch Erika and to make sure her investigation fails.

Some very interesting characters. Most readable.

I think I'll be looking for another in this series.

My rating: 4.6

About the author
My books have sold over 2.5 million copies, and have been translated into 28 languages. In addition to writing crime fiction, I have published a bestselling series of romantic comedy novels. I am British and live in Slovakia.

23 September 2018

Review: ODD CHILD OUT, Gilly Macmillan

  • this edition published by littlebrown.co.uk 2017
  • ISBN 978-0-349-41294-8
  • 382 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (publisher)

Two best friends. One terrible event.

Abdi Mahal and Noah Sadler have been inseparable since they met. They've stuck together, even when their peers have excluded them. But when a horrifying incident leaves Noah in a coma and fighting for his life, Abdi is too traumatised to say anything about what happened.

DI Jim Clemo, freshly returned to work after an enforced leave of absence, is tasked to investigate. And against a backdrop of a city where racial tensions are running high, he must determine what really happened to drive two teenage boys into a situation so desperate.

Everything rests on one of the boys talking.

But one can't talk.

And one won't.

My take

This is the second novel featuring DI Jim Clemo but the first I've read.

It is set in the author's home city of Bristol.

The action of the novel takes place over the period of a week and the story is told from several points of view with often only the content or tone to indicate who the narrator is.

Abdi and Noah are 15 year olds who have been inseparable since they began secondary school. Noah has health issues and has spent a lot of time in hospital. His father is a photographer who spends a lot of time away. Abdi is Somali, his father is a taxi driver, his mother does not speak English, and his sister is at tertiary college. Noah's mother is not convinced his friendship with Abdi is the best he can do, but Noah is very dependent on him.

On the night when the story starts Noah's father has a photographic exhibition which both boys attend. Some of the photographs are of Somalian refugee camps and Abdi finds them upsetting.  After they get back to Noah's place the boys go out, at Noah's instigation, unknown to his parents, and this sets off a train of events with dreadful consequences.

This novel has a number of thought provoking themes: relationships in the work place, journalists who use events to enhance their own careers, the effects of ill health on families and those who are afflicted, the search by teenagers for identity and rites of passage.

My rating: 4.5

About the author

Gilly Macmillan grew up in Wiltshire, and was pleasantly surprised when her family moved to California when she was a teenager. She studied History of Art at Bristol University before doing an MA in Modern British Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art.  Her career path has included working at the Burlington Magazine, the Hayward Gallery and teaching photography at a sixth-form college in Swindon. Her favourite job was working in a café opposite Keplers bookshop in Menlo Park, CA. She currently lives in Bristol with her husband Julian and their three children.

20 September 2018

Review: BRING ME BACK, B. A. Paris

Synopsis (publisher)

Finn and Layla: young and in love, their whole lives ahead of them. Driving back from a holiday in France one night, Finn pulls in to a service station, leaving Layla alone in the car. When he returns, minutes later, Layla has vanished, never to be seen again. That’s the story Finn tells the police. It’s the truth but not the whole truth.

Twelve years later, Finn has built a new life with Ellen, Layla’s sister, when he receives a phone call. Someone has seen Layla. But is it her or someone pretending to be her? If it is her, what does she want? And what does she know about the night she disappeared?

My Take

An intriguing plot with plenty of mystery for the reader to work on.

Twelve years ago Layla disappeared after an argument with Finn on the way back from a holiday in France. But what Finn told the police about what happened that night was not the entire truth. The story then jumps from the night of the argument in 2006 to the current time in 2018.

In the chapters in Part One, Finn is the narrator, and the chapters switch rhythmically between "Now" and "Before". Now it appears that Layla may have returned, confirmed by a sighting, a trail of Russian dolls, and text messages on Finn's phone. At first Finn is not sure who is sending the text messages and begins to think they must be from Layla. We always know whose voice it is, but just to make sure we don't get lost, each chapter heading shows the narrator's name.

Part Two introduces Layla's voice in alternate chapters, with Finn's thoughts in the other chapters.

It is an interesting structure but towards 250 pages I began to get impatient for the plot to conclude.
My brain was working overtime to rationalise the plot strands, to come up with a scenario that fitted all strands. When I finally got to the end, I discovered I was partly right and partly not. I guess that is the sign of a good story.

The other thing that the reader has to take into account is the significance of the title, something we often neglect. This was a title with acute meaning.

My rating: 4.5

About the author

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Behind Closed Doors, B. A. Paris, grew up in England but has spent most of her adult life in France. She has worked in finance and as a teacher. She has recently moved back to England.

17 September 2018

Review: THE BURNING CHAMBERS, Kate Mosse

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 4829 KB
  • Print Length: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Mantle (May 8, 2018)
  • Publication Date: May 8, 2018
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0774FM62G 
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

Bringing 16th century Languedoc vividly to life, Kate Mosse's The Burning Chambers is a gripping story of love and betrayal, mysteries and secrets; of war and adventure, conspiracies and divided loyalties....

Carcassonne, 1562: 19-year-old Minou Joubert receives an anonymous letter at her father's bookshop. Sealed with a distinctive family crest, it contains just five words: "She Knows That You Live". But before Minou can decipher the mysterious message, a chance encounter with a young Huguenot convert, Piet Reydon, changes her destiny forever. For Piet has a dangerous mission of his own, and he will need Minou's help if he is to get out of La Cite alive.

Toulouse: As the religious divide deepens in the Midi, and old friends become enemies, Minou and Piet both find themselves trapped in Toulouse, facing new dangers as sectarian tensions ignite across the city, the battle lines are drawn in blood and the conspiracy darkens further. Meanwhile, as a long-hidden document threatens to resurface, the mistress of Puivert is obsessed with uncovering its secret and strengthening her power....

My Take

Once again I am on the outskirts of crime fiction. This is more a historical novel, but there is plenty of mystery.
I have seen several times that it is also the beginning of a series of 4 books "with the next three due out in 2020, 2022 and 2024".

Set in France in 1562 at the start of the Wars of Religion, it begins with a Prologue set in Franschhoek South Africa in 1862, 300 years after the main action of the book. Thus setting up a mystery for the scope of the remainder of the series.

Within the major canvas of the wars which involved Catholics vs Huguenots is this story of the struggles within one Toulouse family, surely one mirrored all over France as Church and State struggled for power.

Central to the story is the true identity of one of the characters.

Very readable.

My rating: 4.4


 I have also read
4.4, THE TAXIDERMIST'S DAUGHTER

About the author
Kate Mosse is an international bestselling author with sales of more than five million copies in 38 languages. Her fiction includes the novels Labyrinth (2005), Sepulchre (2007), The Winter Ghosts (2009), Citadel (2012), The Taxidermist's Daughter (2014), and The Burning Chambers (2018), as well as an acclaimed collection of short stories, The Mistletoe Bride & Other Haunting Tales (2013). Kate is the Co-Founder and Chair of the Board of the Women's Prize for Fiction and in June 2013, was awarded an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for services to literature. She lives in Sussex. 

16 September 2018

Review: CAT O'NINE TALES, Jeffrey Archer - audio book

Synopsis (Audible.com)

Cat O' Nine Tales is the sixth collection of irresistible short stories from this master storyteller. These 12 yarns are so satisfying because they are ingeniously plotted, include richly drawn characters, and have deliciously unexpected conclusions. They feature the mad, the bad, and the dangerous to know, as well as some more poignant and telling characters.

Many of these stories came to Archer while he was incarcerated for two years in five different prisons, and so they have a prison theme. Others were inspired after he was released. All in all, they confirm his position as one of the best storytellers alive.

My take

Another impressive set of short stories, a couple really almost novellas.
Beautifully and cleverly narrated.
I really am hooked on Archer's short stories.

The list of stories
    The Man who Robbed his own Post Office
    Maestro
    Don’t Drink the Water
    It Can’t Be October Already
    The Red King
    The Wisdom of Solomon
    Know What I Mean?
    Charity Begins at Home
    The Alibi
    A Greek Tragedy
    The Commissioner
    In The Eye of the Beholder

They range from a tale of ‘The Man Who Robbed His Own Post Office’, to the story of a company chairman who tried to poison his wife while on a trip to St Petersburg – both with unexpected consequences. In another, ‘Maestro’, an Italian restaurateur ends up in jail, unable to explain to the tax man how he can own a yacht, a Ferrari and a home in Florence, while only declaring a profit of £70,000 a year.

‘The Red King’ is a tale about a con man who discovers that an English Lord requires one more chess piece to complete a set that would be worth a fortune. In another tale of deception, ‘The Commissioner’, a Bombay con artist ends up in the morgue, after he uses the police chief as bait in his latest scam. ‘The Alibi’ reveals how a convict manages to remove an old enemy while he’s locked up in jail, and then set up two prison officers as his alibi. In total contrast is the accountant, who, in ‘Charity Begins at Home’, realises he has achieved nothing in his life, and sets out to make a fortune before he retires.

And then there is Archer’s favourite, which he came across after leaving prison, ‘In the Eye of the Beholder’, where a handsome premier division footballer falls in love with a 20-stone woman … who just happens to be the ninth richest woman in Italy. -
this extract from Archer's website.

My rating: 4.6

I've also reviewed
A TWIST IN THE TALE
4.5, ONLY TIME WILL TELL- #1 Clifton series
4.7, TELL TALE 

9 September 2018

Review: THE SHROUDED PATH, Sarah Ward

  • format: kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 481 KB
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (September 4, 2018)
  • Publication Date: September 4, 2018
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B07D3F8BZT
  • #4 in the Connie Childs series
Synopsis (Amazon)

The past won't stay buried forever.

November, 1957: Six teenage girls walk in the churning Derbyshire mists, the first chills of winter in the air. Their voices carrying across the fields, they follow the old train tracks into the dark tunnel of the Cutting. Only five appear on the other side.

October, 2017: a dying mother, feverishly fixated on a friend from her childhood, makes a plea: 'Find Valerie.' Mina's elderly mother had never discussed her childhood with her daughter before. So who was Valerie? Where does her obsession spring from?

DC Connie Childs, off balance after her last big case, is partnered up with new arrival to Bampton, Peter Dahl. Following up on what seems like a simple natural death, DC Childs' old instincts kick in, pointing her right back to one cold evening in 1957. As Connie starts to broaden her enquiries, the investigation begins to spiral increasingly close to home.

My Take

Susan definitely saw 6 girls enter the tunnel and then only 5 emerged at the other end. She walked through the tunnel in trepidation but did not find the missing girl. For her it simply confirmed the sinister and evil nature of the place. After that she avoided going near the tunnel and and years passed, then decades.

Six decades later Mina's mother Hilary is hospitalised with an aggressive cancer. She has a raging temperature which doesn't seem to respond to treatment. Hilary becomes frightened when she receives a visit from someone from her past. She is unable to explain much to her daughter Mina about who this person is. At one stage she tells Mina that she killed Valerie, that Valerie is dead, and then asks Mina to find Valerie. When Hilary dies Mina becomes determined to find Valerie, but then the possibility arises that Hilary has been murdered.

This story is a real page turner. The story is full of mysteries and fascinating scenarios.

My rating: 4.8

Read another review at Clothes in Books

I've also read
4.8, IN BITTER CHILL
5.0, A DEADLY THAW  

7 September 2018

Review: THE PARIS SECRET, Karen Swan

 Synopsis (publisher)


Not every door should be opened . . .

With stunning locations and page-turning tension, The Paris Secret is an intense and gripping tale from bestselling author Karen Swan, perfect for fans of Santa Montefiore.

Somewhere along the cobbled streets of Paris, an apartment lies thick with dust and secrets: full of priceless artworks hidden away for decades.

High-flying fine art agent Flora from London, more comfortable with the tension of a million-pound auction than a cosy candlelit dinner for two, is called in to assess these suddenly discovered treasures. As an expert in her field, she must trace the history of each painting and discover who has concealed them for so long.

Thrown in amongst the glamorous Vermeil family as they move between Paris and Antibes, Flora begins to discover that things aren’t all that they seem, while back at home her own family is recoiling from a seismic shock. The terse and brooding Xavier Vermeil seems intent on forcing Flora out of his family’s affairs - but just what is he hiding?

My Take

Here is another of those novels that sits on the outer boundary of crime fiction. Certainly crimes have been committed, long ago, perhaps even the biggest crime against humanity of all. But this novel is about whether a family will benefit from the aftermath of those crimes, or is what has happened in the past, in this instance, not what it seems?

A family's lawyers are contacted by some burglars to say that they have found a long untouched apartment. A junior clerk not well versed in the protocols to be followed in this case contacts the family and events escalate from there. He has sent them the key to the wrong apartment.

The family is controlled by a matriarch, her husband long dead. He has left instructions that the apartment is not to be opened by the family until after his wife's death. So, the family employs a fine art agent to explore and document the contents of the apartment which appears to be scores of painting and other art treasures untouched for over 70 years.

The author says the story is based on a newspaper report about a similar situation that has occurred in Paris.

There is a lot of human interest in this story particularly about how the younger members of the family will cope with their family's history about which they have, until this point, known nothing.

Very readable.

My rating 4.4

About the author
Karen Swan began her career in fashion journalism before giving it all up to raise her three children and a puppy, and to pursue her ambition of becoming a writer. She lives in the forest in Sussex, writing her books in a treehouse overlooking the Downs. Her books include Christmas at Tiffany’s, Summer at Tiffany’s, The Perfect Present, Christmas in the Snow, Christmas on Primrose Hill, The Paris Secret and The Rome Affair.

2 September 2018

What I read in August 2018

A good month, some solid reads, including some short stories
  1. 4.5, THREE LITTLE LIES, Laura Marshall  
  2. 4.4, THEN SHE WAS GONE, Lisa Jewell
  3. 4.5, MOTIVES FOR MURDER, Martin Edwards (edit) - short stories
  4. 4.4, BANNERLESS, Carrie Vaughn 
  5. 4.6, DEAD HEAT, Peter Cotton - Australian author
  6. 4.6, I FOUND YOU, Lisa Jewell 
  7. 4.7, THE GATEKEEPER, Charles Todd
  8. 4.6, THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW, A. J. Finn
  9. 4.5, BODIES FROM THE LIBRARY, Tony Medawar (edit)- short stories
  10. 4.7, TELL TALE, Jeffrey Archer   - audio book, short stories
  11. 4.8, CARELESS LOVE, Peter Robinson 
  12. 4.5, NEED TO KNOW, Karen Cleveland  
My Pick of the month is Peter Robinson's latest CARELESS LOVE, Peter Robinson
See what others have chosen.

Review: THE CELTIC STONE, Nick Hawkes

Synopsis (publisher)

Chris Norman’s dreams of being a commercial pilot are shattered when he crashes his light plane in central Australia and is badly wounded. His life hangs in the balance, a balance that is swayed by the intervention of an Aboriginal man. He leaves Chris with a mysterious and incongruous legacy, a Celtic cross made of stone.

Partly blinded and in deep grief at no longer being able to fly, Chris finds his way to the inhospitable islands off the West Coast of Scotland where he seeks to unravel the secrets of the Celtic stone.

A blind Hebridean woman, shunned by many in the local community, becomes his reluctant ally, along with a seven year old boy who is as wild as the storm tossed seas that surround the islands.

Chris must overcome his grief to find answers to his questions. But the threat of murder lingers ....

My Take

This is one of those books that I place on the margins of crime fiction: but there is murder, there is mystery and there is crime.

I bought the book recently at a book launch held at our local library by the author to celebrate his third book.

There's something a little old fashioned about the plot and style of this book - it reminds me of some of the books I read decades ago. Having said that though, I am not denigrating it. I really enjoyed the story. At the book launch Nick Hawkes said he favoured happy endings and this novel certainly works towards that. It is a stand-alone and its characters are engaging and, as the Caleb Prize might warn you, there is an underlying theme about the meaning of life.

The setting ranges from South Australia to the Scottish Hebrides and they are places which the author appears to know and love.

If you are looking for some very readable, feel-good, crime fiction then this might just hit the spot for you.

My rating: 4.3

About the author

Nick was a research scientist for twelve years before training as a pastor and leading a number of vibrant churches. He is currently Pastor of Rivergate Christian Community in South Australia.

Nick is a guest lecturer at two theological colleges, gives daily devotions on Christian radio and is a popular speaker both in Australia and abroad. He is an eloquent and passionate apologist for the Christian gospel

meme: New to me authors - July to September 2018

I have read 20 new-to-me authors in the last 3 months.

  1. 4.5, THE SEVEN SISTERS, Lucinda Riley
  2. 2.2, AGATHA CHRISTIE'S TRUE CRIME INSPIRATIONS, Mike Holgate
  3. 4.4, THE WITNESS, Nora Roberts
  4. 4.4, THE GUILTY WIFE, Elle Croft
  5. 4.4, TWIST OF FAITH, Ellen J. Green
  6. 4.8, THE PRESIDENT IS MISSING, Bill Clinton & James Patterson
  7. 4.3, BALLAD FOR A MAD GIRL, Vikki Wakefield
  8. 4.4, DEAD LETTERS, Caite Dolan-Leach
  9. 4.4, MIDNIGHT AT THE BRIGHT IDEAS BOOKSTORE, Matthew Sullivan
  10. 4.4, THEN SHE WAS GONE, Lisa Jewell
  11. 4.5, THREE LITTLE LIES, Laura Marshall 
  12. 4.4, BANNERLESS, Carrie Vaughn
  13. 4.6, THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW, A. J. Finn
  14. 4.5, BODIES FROM THE LIBRARY, Tony Medawar (edit)
  15. 4.5, NEED TO KNOW, Karen Cleveland 
  16. 4.3, THE CELTIC STONE, Nick Hawkes
  17. 4.4, THE PARIS SECRET, Karen Swan
  18. 4.5, BRING ME BACK, B. A. Paris 
  19. 4.5, ODD CHILD OUT, Gilly Macmillan
  20. 4.6, DARK WATER, Robert Bryndza 
  21. 4.4, THE WIFE BETWEEN US, Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen 

Discover the other new authors others have read

31 August 2018

Pick of the Month August 2018

Crime Fiction Pick of the Month 2018
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 August 2018, 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 -
e.g.
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.


30 August 2018

Review: NEED TO KNOW, Karen Cleveland

  • This edition published by Penguin Random House UK 2018
  • source: my local library
  • ISBN 978-0-5930-7960-7
  • 292 pages
  • Read an extract
Synopsis (publisher)

Perfect husband. Perfect father. Perfect liar?

Do you really know who you kissed goodbye this morning?

You get to work. Make a coffee. Turn on your computer.

Your task: break into a Russian criminal's laptop and find proof that he's concealing five deep-cover agents - seemingly normal people living in plain sight.

You’re in. Five faces stare back at you.

One of them is your husband.

From Amazon:
Vivian Miller. High-powered CIA analyst, happily married to a man she adores, mother of four beautiful children. Until the moment she makes a shocking discovery that makes her question everything she believes.
She thought she knew her husband inside and out. But now she wonders if it was all a lie. How far will she go to learn the truth?  And does she really . . .

My Take

This story was a real page-turner.

Vivian Miller is a CIA analyst who discovers that, for the last 10 years, her husband has been lying to her. She knows what she should do, but if she does, then he, or she, face years of imprisonment. The longer she delays, the deeper the quandary, and the worse the consequences for her family. And does the infiltration of US intelligence go much much deeper than anyone likes to admit?

Very engrossing read, perhaps not totally credible, but then the author has herself been a CIA analyst.

My rating: 4.5

About the author

Karen Cleveland spent eight years as a CIA analyst, focusing on counter-terrorism and working briefly on rotation to the FBI. She has master's degrees from Trinity College Dublin and Harvard University. She lives in northern Virginia with her husband and two young sons.

28 August 2018

Review: CARELESS LOVE, Peter Robinson

  • this edition published in 2018 by Hodder & Stoughton UK
  • ISBN 978-1-444-78698-9
  • 340 pages
  • source: my local library
  • #25 in the Alan Banks series
  • author website
Synopsis (publisher)

A young local student has apparently committed suicide. Her body is found in an abandoned car on a lonely country road. She didn't own a car. Didn't even drive. How did she get there? Where did she die? Who moved her, and why?

Meanwhile a man in his sixties is found dead in a gully up on the wild moorland. He is wearing an expensive suit and carrying no identification. Post-mortem findings indicate he died from injuries sustained during the fall. But what was he doing up there? And why are there no signs of a car in the vicinity?

As the inconsistencies multiply and the mysteries proliferate, Annie's father's new partner, Zelda, comes up with a shocking piece of information that alerts Banks and Annie to the return of an old enemy in a new guise. This is someone who will stop at nothing, not even murder, to get what he wants - and suddenly the stakes are raised and the hunt is on.
 
My Take

Very readable police procedural.

Bank's small team is called to deal with 2 deaths, one a young female uni student, and the other a financier in his 60s. At first the deaths do not seem to be murders but there is no way to explain how the bodies came to be where they are. The young woman appears to have died from a drug overdose but she is sitting in a car waiting to be towed away, and she wasn't there just days before. The man on the other hand is at the bottom of a gully on the moors with a broken neck. It seems unlikely that he walked there.

Then Banks is notified by a colleague of another dead girl and investigation seems to throw up links with the first girl.

I must admit that I came up with a scenario that connected everything up, about 100 pages bcfore the end, but I'm delighted to report that I was wrong!

I love the character development in these novels, both of Banks' team getting on with their lives, and the new characters who become part of the investigation.

There are references to plots from earlier titles in the series (hard to believe we are up to #25), and I should warn readers that the plots have taken a very different path to those of the television series.

My rating : 4.8


I've also read
FRIEND OF THE DEVIL (2007)
4.6, ALL THE COLOURS OF DARKNESS (2008)
4.6, BAD BOY (2010)
4.9. BEFORE THE POISON
4.7, WATCHING THE DARK (2013)
4.3, CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION
4.8, ABATTOIR BLUES
4.4, THE PRICE OF LOVE
4.5, BEFORE THE POISON
4.6, SLEEPING IN THE GROUND

26 August 2018

Review: TELL TALE, Jeffrey Archer - audio book

  • source: my local library
  • Narrated by: Robert Bathurst
  • Length: 5 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 11-02-17
  • Publisher: Macmillan Digital Audio
Synopsis

Nearly a decade after his last volume of short stories was published, Archer returns with his eagerly awaited, brand-new collection, Tell Tale, giving us a fascinating, exciting and sometimes poignant insight into the people he has met, the stories he has come across and the countries he has visited during the past 10 years.

Find out what happens to the hapless young detective from Naples who travels to an Italian hillside town to find out ' Who Killed the Mayor?' and the pretentious schoolboy in A Road to Damascus', whose discovery of the origins of his father's wealth changes his life in the most profound way.

Revel in the stories of the 1930s woman who dares to challenge the men at her Ivy League university in 'A Gentleman and a Scholar' while another young woman who thumbs a lift gets more than she bargained for in 'A Wasted Hour'.

These wonderfully engaging and always refreshingly original tales prove not only why Archer has been compared by the critics to Dahl and Maugham but why he was described by The Times as probably the greatest storyteller of our age.

My Take

An excellent and intriguing set of short stories, some crime fiction amongst them. The opening 100 word story Unique gets the reader thinking, and the novella The Senior Vice President is wonderful.

Well read in this audio book version.

My rating: 4.7

I've also read
A TWIST IN THE TALE
4.5, ONLY TIME WILL TELL- #1 Clifton series 

23 August 2018

Review: BODIES FROM THE LIBRARY: Lost Classic Stories, Tony Medawar (edit)

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 809 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Collins Crime Club (July 26, 2018)
  • Publication Date: July 26, 2018
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B077ZGVY1Z
Synopsis (Amazon)

This anthology of rare stories of crime and suspense brings together 16 rare tales by masters of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction for the first time in book form, including a newly discovered Agatha Christie crime story that has not been seen since 1922.

At a time when crime and thriller writing has once again overtaken the sales of general and literary fiction, Bodies from the Library unearths lost stories from the Golden Age, that period between the World Wars when detective fiction captured the public’s imagination and saw the emergence of some of the world’s cleverest and most popular storytellers.

This anthology brings together 16 forgotten tales that have either been published only once before – perhaps in a newspaper or rare magazine – or have never before appeared in print. From a previously unpublished 1917 script featuring Ernest Bramah’s blind detective Max Carrados, to early 1950s crime stories written for London’s Evening Standard by Cyril Hare, Freeman Wills Crofts and A.A. Milne, it spans five decades of writing by masters of the Golden Age.

Most anticipated of all are the contributions by women writers: the first detective story by Georgette Heyer, unseen since 1923; an unpublished story by Christianna Brand, creator of Nanny McPhee; and a dark tale by Agatha Christie published only in an Australian journal in 1922 during her ‘Grand Tour’ of the British Empire.

With other stories by Detection Club stalwarts Anthony Berkeley, H.C. Bailey, J.J. Connington, John Rhode and Nicholas Blake, plus Vincent Cornier, Leo Bruce, Roy Vickers and Arthur Upfield, this essential collection harks back to a time before forensic science – when murder was a complex business.

My Take

This is a fascinating collection of stories and plays by Golden Age authors, including the one that got Arthur Upfield into so much trouble, about the perfect murder, and an Agatha Christie story The Wife of the Kenite published in in an Australian Women's Magazine in 1922. This is the earliest published Christie story that I have read. (See my list here).

Most of the stories in the anthology have only been published once, or not previously. Some have worn well, others were more 19th century in their "feel". After each short story is an excellent short biography of the author. The introduction also gave an excellent summary of the Golden Age period. What a productive time it was!

The contents
Before Insulin, J.J. Connington
The Inverness Cape, Leo Bruce
Dark Waters, Freeman Wills Croft
Lincke's Great Case, Georgette Heyer
Calling James Braithwaite, Nicholas Blake - a play
The Elusive Bullet, John Rhode
The Euthanasia of Hilary's Aunt, Cyril Hare
The Girdle of Dreams, Vincent Cornier
The Fool and the Perfect Murder, Arthur Upfield
Bread Upon the Waters, A.A. Milne
The Man with the Twisted Thumb, Anthony Berkeley
The Rum Punch, Christianna Brand
Blind Man's Buff, Ernest Bramah - a play
Victoria Pumphrey, H.C. Bailey
The Starting-Handle Murder, Roy Vickers
The Wife of the Kenite, Agatha Christie

My rating: 4.5

About the Author

Editor Tony Medawar is a detective fiction expert and researcher with a penchant for tracking down rare stories. His other collections of previously uncollected stories include WHILE THE LIGHT LASTS (Agatha Christie), THE AVENGING CHANCE (Anthony Berkeley), THE SPOTTED CAT (Christianna Brand) and A SPOT OF FOLLY (Ruth Rendell).

20 August 2018

Review: THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW, A. J. Finn

  • this edition published  by Harper Collins UK
  • ISBN 978-0-00-823416-4
  • 427 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (publisher)

What did she see?

It’s been ten long months since Anna Fox last left her home. Ten months during which she has haunted the rooms of her old New York house like a ghost, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside.

Anna’s lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits day after day, watching her neighbours. When the Russells move in, Anna is instantly drawn to them. A picture-perfect family of three, they are an echo of the life that was once hers.

But one evening, a frenzied scream rips across the silence, and Anna witnesses something no one was supposed to see. Now she must do everything she can to uncover the truth about what really happened. But even if she does, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself?

My Take

This book is layered like an onion, and we spend most of the reading time working out why Anna, a child psychiatrist, has become agoraphobic. Compounding her problems is the fact that she has become a heavy drinker (in the eyes of her neighbours a drunk) and she mixes her medication with alcohol with the result that she loses track of time, and seems to suffer from hallucinations. She watches her many neighbours through the lens of her camera but rarely takes photos.

Anna spends much of her time watching old black and white movies, mainly thrillers, but she often dozes off in them and then confuses their scripts with her actual life.

There are lots of mysteries to solve in this story. When Anna thinks she has seen a murder committed she calls the police but even the sympathetic detective and his colleague eventually suggest that she is deluded.

A very good read.

My rating: 4.6

About the author

A. J. Finn is an American author, born in New York. Finn is a pseudonym for Daniel Mallory. He is an Oxford graduate and former book critic.
A. J. Finn has written for numerous publications, including the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post and the Times Literary Supplement. Finn’s debut novel, The Woman in the Window, has been sold in thirty-nine territories worldwide and is in development as a major motion picture from Fox. A native of New York, Finn lived in England for ten years before returning to New York City.

18 August 2018

review: THE GATEKEEPER, Charles Todd - audio book

  • format: audio book from Audible
  • Narrated by: Simon Prebble
  • Series: Inspector Ian Rutledge, Book 20
  • Length: 10 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 02-06-18
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: HarperAudio
Synopsis (Audible)

On a deserted road, late at night, Scotland Yard's Ian Rutledge encounters a frightened woman standing over a body, launching an inquiry that leads him into the lair of a stealthy killer and the dangerous recesses of his own memories in this 20th installment of the acclaimed New York Times best-selling series.

Hours after his sister's wedding, a restless Ian Rutledge drives aimlessly, haunted by the past, and narrowly misses a motorcar stopped in the middle of a desolate road. Standing beside the vehicle is a woman with blood on her hands and a dead man at her feet.

She swears she didn't kill Stephen Wentworth. A stranger stepped out in front of their motorcar, and without warning, fired a single shot before vanishing into the night. But there is no trace of him. And the shaken woman insists it all happened so quickly, she never saw the man's face.

Although he is a witness after the fact, Rutledge persuades the Yard to give him the inquiry, since he's on the scene. But is he seeking justice - or fleeing painful memories in London?

Wentworth was well-liked, yet his bitter family paint a malevolent portrait, calling him a murderer. But who did Wentworth kill? Is his death retribution? Or has his companion lied? Wolf Pit, his village, has a notorious history: in medieval times, the last wolf in England was killed there. When a second suspicious death occurs, the evidence suggests that a dangerous predator is on the loose and that death is closer than Rutledge knows.

My Take

Set in 1920. Rutledge is still suffering from post traumatic stress from the war and the recent marriage of his sister brings painful reminders of what life might have held for him.

The investigation he takes on into the shooting death of a motorist in the middle of the night in a sense provides a welcome distraction from his war memories and personal life, but in reality there is no getting away from the war and the impact it had on people's lives.

The title is a puzzle right to the end. The plot is intricate, and some of the strands tested credibility but as always the character portrayal was excellent.

Simon Prebble does a superb job of the narration.

My rating: 4.7

I've also read
A TEST OF WILLS -#1
SEARCH THE DARK -#3
4.8, A FEARSOME DOUBT -#6
A PALE HORSE -#10
4.5, A DUTY TO THE DEAD - Bess Crawford series
4.7, A LONELY DEATH -#13
4.6, THE CONFESSION - #14
4.7, HUNTING SHADOWS - #16
4.7, NO SHRED OF EVIDENCE - #18
4.7, RACING THE DEVIL - #19 

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