14 August 2018

Review: DEAD HEAT, Peter Cotton

  • this edition published by Scribe Publications 2018
  • #2 in the Darren Glass series
  • source: review copy from publisher
  • ISBN 978-1-923713-42-8
  • 299 pages
Synopsis (publisher)

Detective Darren Glass is back, and the stakes are higher than ever.

When the battered body of a young Aboriginal woman washes up onto a beach at Jervis Bay, Australian Federal Police Detective Darren Glass is brought in from Canberra to investigate. Glass quickly ties the murder to the disappearance of a sailor from the nearby naval base, and is forced to partner up with a senior intelligence officer from the Royal Australian Navy.

Together they follow the trail of evidence to the red heart of Australia, where a confrontation with outlaw bikies and Aboriginal activists proves deadly. As the body count mounts and foreign links emerge, the conspiracy at the heart of the case becomes a threat to Australia’s national security, as well as regional peace.

My take

This thriller can hold its head up on the international stage. Cotton spins a plausible tale, with Australia the object of fine balance in international politics and under threat from its neighbours.

A dead body on territory theoretically under the jurisdiction of the Australian Federal Police sparks an investigation. The AFP detective Darren Glass finds that he is not actually in control, and will be shadowed by someone appointed by the Navy. In the background is the story of his girlfriend Jean a journalist who has disappeared in upheavals in Indonesia.

A second theme is the underlying resentment that Aboriginal activists are harbouring against the white domination.

This novel brings together current themes in the Australian psyche.

My rating: 4.6

I've also reviewed 4.8, DEAD CAT BOUNCE

About the author

11 August 2018

Review: BANNERLESS, Carrie Vaughn

  • this edition published 2017 by Mariner Books
  • source: my local library
  • ISBN 978-0-544-94730-6
  • 274 pages
Synopsis (Amazon)

A mysterious murder in a dystopian future leads a novice investigator to question what she’s learned about the foundation of her population-controlled society.

Decades after economic and environmental collapse destroys much of civilization in the United States, the Coast Road region isn’t just surviving but thriving by some accounts, building something new on the ruins of what came before. A culture of population control has developed in which people, organized into households, must earn the children they bear by proving they can take care of them and are awarded symbolic banners to demonstrate this privilege. In the meantime, birth control is mandatory.

Enid of Haven is an Investigator, called on to mediate disputes and examine transgressions against the community. She’s young for the job and hasn't yet handled a serious case. Now, though, a suspicious death requires her attention. The victim was an outcast, but might someone have taken dislike a step further and murdered him?

In a world defined by the disasters that happened a century before, the past is always present. But this investigation may reveal the cracks in Enid’s world and make her question what she really stands for.

My Take

This novel couples crime fiction with science fiction in a dystopian view of America in one hundred years' time. Much was lost during The Fall, when political, social and technological chaos resulted from some sort of cataclysm. The population has been decimated by pestilence and the large cities have gone along with most of their populations.

An interesting read. Investigators Enid and Tomas have been sent to a nearby community to investigate a serious death reported by one of the community leaders. The man has already been 4 days dead by the time they arrive, and nobody wants to give them any information. It appears Ariana, the community leader who has requested the investigation actually has another agenda altogether.

My Rating: 4.4

About the author
Carrie Vaughn is the author of the New York Times bestselling series of novels about a werewolf named Kitty. She also writes for young adults (her novel STEEL was named to the ALA's 2012 Amelia Bloomer list of the best books for young readers with strong feminist content), the Golden Age superhero series, and other contemporary fantasy stories. She's a contributor to the Wild Cards series of shared world superhero books edited by George R. R. Martin, and her short stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. She's a graduate of the Odyssey Fantasy Writing Workshop, and in 2011, she was nominated for a Hugo Award for best short story.

8 August 2018

Review: MOTIVES FOR MURDER, Martin Edwards (edit)

  • this edition published by Sphere 2016
  • ISBN 978-0-7515-6615-4
  • edited by Martin Edwards
  • 375 pages
Synopsis (Amazon)

Members of London's famed Detection Club have joined together to honor Peter Lovesey, winner multiple times of the Crime Writers Association Gold Dagger and Silver Dagger, and Cartier Diamond Dagger for Lifetime Achievement.

He has also won the Mystery Writers of America Edgar for Best Novel, as well as Grand Prix de Littérature Policière. He is the creator of Victorian sleuths Sergeant Cribb and Constable Thackeray, Inspector Peter Diamond, and the almost true-to-life Bertie Prince of Wales.

The Detection Club was founded in 1930 by Anthony Berkeley. Its first Honorary President was G.K. Chesterton, to be succeeded by such luminaries as Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Julian Symons, and H. R. F. Keating. The current President, Martin Edwards, has edited this collection of new stories. Motives for Murder contains new stories to honor Peter Lovesey by some of the greatest names in current crime writing.


My Take

With an introduction by Martin Edwards who edited this collection, a foreword by Len Deighton, a final response by Peter Lovesey himself  this is a lovely collection of specially written short stories honoring Peter's 80th birthday.

Like so many of the contributors I remember reading Peter's debut novel WOBBLE TO DEATH, and have followed his writing over the years, both in his various series, and his stand alone novels.

Reviewed on this blog are
MAD HATTER'S HOLIDAY
SKELETON HILL
THE REAPER
5.0, STAGESTRUCK
5.0, COP TO CORPSE
4.5, THE HEADHUNTERS
4.8, THE TOOTH TATTOO
4.7, DOWN AMONG THE DEAD MEN
4.7, THE STONE WIFE
4.5, ANOTHER ONE GOES TONIGHT 
and I read a great many before that.

Many of the contributors paid homage by setting their story in one of the settings that Peter has used.

If, like me, you like crime fiction short stories, you'll enjoy this collection.


My rating: 4.5

3 August 2018

Review: THEN SHE WAS GONE, Lisa Jewell

  • this edition published 2017 by Century (Random House)
  • ISBN 978-1-78-089542-7
  • 424 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (publisher)

She was fifteen, her mother's golden girl.
She had her whole life ahead of her.
And then, in the blink of an eye, Ellie was gone.

Ten years on, Laurel has never given up hope of finding Ellie. And then she meets a charming and charismatic stranger who sweeps her off her feet.

But what really takes her breath away is when she meets his nine-year-old daughter.

Because his daughter is the image of Ellie.

Now all those unanswered questions that have haunted Laurel come flooding back.

What really happened to Ellie? And who still has secrets to hide?

My take

Ellie disappeared on her way to the library. No CCTV to help, house to house searches revealed nothing. The police thought she had run away, and eventually the discovery of her bag with some clothes seemed to confirm that. Four years after her disappearance someone burgled the house, as if Ellie had come back to retrieve some belongings.

In the aftermath of Ellie's disappearance Laurel's marriage collapsed, her brother and sister left home, and Laurel's husband Paul found a new woman.

I did have some doubts about the credibility of parts of the plot but that did not prevent me from either enjoying or finishing the book.

Lisa Jewell really is an author that I read need to read more books by.

My rating: 4.4

About the author

I've been here in one form or another for A Very Long Time Indeed.

My first book, Ralph's Party, came out in 1998, when I was still a young person and when some of you may not yet have been born. Since then I have written and published another fourteen books, from the 'curry and flatmates' novels of the nineties and noughties like Thirtynothing, One Hit Wonder, A Friend of the Family and Vince & Joy, to more serious 'themed' novels like After The Party (marriage), The Making of Us (sperm donation) and The House We Grew Up In (hoarding) to my more recent domestic thrillers, like The Third Wife, The Girls, I Found You and Then She Was Gone.

I live in London with my husband, two daughters, two hairy cats, two nervous guinea pigs and a very lovely auburn dog. I write every day, a minimum of one thousand words, in a cafe, with no access to the internet, in two to three hour sessions. It's a very good life.

2 August 2018

What I read in July 2018

July 2018

An excellent month of reading with some outstanding books
My pick of the month was THE PRESIDENT IS MISSING by Bill Clinton & James Patterson

See what others have chosen, and add your pick of the month.


Review: THREE LITTLE LIES, Laura Marshall

  • this edition published by Sphere 2018
  • ISBN 978-0-7515-6836-3
  • 372 pages
  • source: my local library
  • #2 in the Friend Request series
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

Sasha North has gone missing.

Everyone says she's run away, but I know better. We've been best friends since we were teenagers, since Sasha swept into the neighbourhood and brought colour to my life. Until a brutal attack changed both our lives forever.

I know what happened that night. I know who wants revenge.

And if Sasha has been taken, does that mean I'm next?

My Take


Ellen and Karina watch with interest the arrival of a new family to the house across the road with two teenage sons and a daughter their own age. The house becomes the focus of parties thrown by the parents and Ellen feels that the mother Olivia is so much more modern than her own staid parents. Ellen and Karina, once bosom buddies, become rivals for the friendship of the foster daughter Sasha.

The story spans a 12 year period, with two main narrators Olivia and Ellen. It opens in a courtroom with one of the boys on trial.

A good read with a slightly predictable twist in the final pages.



My rating: 4.5


About the author
Laura Marshall grew up in Wiltshire and studied English at the University of Sussex.

In 2015 she decided it was time to fulfil a lifetimes ambition to write a novel, and enrolled on the Curtis Brown Creative three month novel writing course.

Her first novel, Friend Request, was runner-up in the Bath Novel Award 2016 and shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize 2016.

Laura lives in Kent with her husband and two children.

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