19 May 2019

Review: WHERE THE DEAD LAY, David Levein

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 1006 KB
  • Print Length: 418 pages
  • Publisher: Transworld Digital (November 24, 2009)
  • Publication Date: November 24, 2009
  • Sold by: PRH UK
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0031RS2MC
  • #2 in the Frank Behr series 
Synopsis (Amazon)

THE VICTIM was a fighter, but strength wasn't enough to save him from a gruesome end.

THE MISSING are two well-paid private investigators who vanish on a confidential job.

THE FAMILY is formidable, crazy, deadly, and will stop at nothing to make a mark.

THE INVESTIGATOR is Frank Behr: tough, reclusive, angry, and close to becoming . . .

THE HUNTED . . . can Behr track down the killers before they add him to their hit list?

My Take

The action takes place about 18 months after the first title in the series: CITY OF THE SUN. Frank Behr is working as an independent investigator and has taken up Ju Jitsu. He arrives in the early morning for his class and finds the instructor, with whom he has become very friendly, dead in the foyer of the building, murdered. He makes a pledge that he will find the person(s) responsible.

At the same time Frank is asked to take on an investigation into two missing private investigators. The people making the request want him to keep the case quiet, and give him minimal information. He does find out however that it is related to an investigation into a bent cop.

Frank has heard other detectives talk about the inter-relatedness of cases they take on, but he has never really believed it until now when connections begin to pop up between two cases that are seemingly unrelated.

And Frank now has some personal problems to resolve with his lover Susan.

A good well constructed novel that just keeps you reading to the end.

My rating: 4.5

I've also read
4.5, CITY OF THE SUN

17 May 2019

Review: THE SINGLE LADIES OF THE JACARANDA RETIREMENT VILLAGE, Joanna Nell

  • this edition published by hachette Australia 2018
  • ISBN 978-0-7336-4035-3
  • 357 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (publisher)

Joanna Nell's life-affirming debut is a moving, funny, heartwarming tale of love and community in the spirit of THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY and GRACE AND FRANKIE.

The life of 79-year-old pensioner PEGGY SMART is as beige as the decor in her retirement village. Her week revolves around aqua aerobics and appointments with her doctor. Following a very minor traffic accident, things have turned frosty with her grown-up children and she is afraid they are trying to take away her independence.

The highlight of Peggy's day is watching her neighbour Brian head out for his morning swim. She dreams of inviting the handsome widower - treasurer of the Residents' Committee and one of the few eligible men in the village - to an intimate dinner. But why would an educated man like Brian, a chartered accountant no less, look twice at Peggy? As a woman of a certain age, she fears she has become invisible, even to men in their eighties.

But a chance encounter with an old school friend she hasn't seen in five decades - the glamorous fashionista ANGIE VALENTINE - sets Peggy on an unexpected journey of self-discovery.

My Take

Once again I have ventured outside my usual crime fiction genre.
But this came to me so highly recommended I felt I could not miss it. And it is a delightful read.

Peggy Smart has reached the age that I am approaching, and she feels a bit as if she is over the hill and that there isn't much left for her. That is until her childhood friend Angie turns up. Peggy always envied Angie. She seemed to have life on a string. Peggy though was forced into becoming a secretary and then she married early. Angie disappeared from her life, went overseas and re-appeared only occasionally. But now she lives in a unit just 3 doors away in the retirement village, and instantly she challenges Peggy to get more out of life.

I really warmed to this book and to some of Peggy's predicament. An enjoyable read.

My Rating: 4.7

About the author
Joanna Nell was born in the UK and studied medicine at Cambridge and Oxford universities. Her short fiction has won multiple awards and has been published in various journals and literary anthologies. As a GP with a passion for women's health and care of the elderly, Joanna is drawn to writing character-driven stories for women in their prime, creating young-at-heart characters who are not afraid to break the rules and defy society's expectations of ageing. Her first novel, THE SINGLE LADIES OF JACARANDA RETIREMENT VILLAGE, was a national bestseller. Joanna lives on Sydney's Northern Beaches with her husband and two teenage children

13 May 2019

Review: CITY OF THE SUN, David Levien

  • this edition published by Corgi Books 2008
  • ISBN 978-0-552-15968-5
  • 491 pages
  • #1 in the Frank Behr series
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Penguin Random House)

Private detective Frank Behr has been perfectly content living a solitary life, working on a few simple cases, and attempting to move on from his painful past. But when Paul and Carol Gabriel ask him to help them find their missing son, he can hardly refuse. Going against everything he fears—Behr’s been around too long to hope for a happy ending—he enters into an uneasy partnership with Paul on a quest for the truth that will become both dangerous and haunting. Richly textured and crackling with suspense on every page, City of the Sun masterfully takes readers on an investigation like no other.

Twelve-year-old Jamie Gabriel gets on his bike before dawn to deliver newspapers in his suburban neighbourhood. Somewhere en route, he vanishes without a trace. Fourteen months later, still with no sign of Jamie and having lost all faith in the police, his parents Paul and Carol are on the verge of abandoning hope. Then they meet private investigator Frank Behr, a tough, reclusive ex-cop. Abandoned by his former colleagues, separated from his wife and haunted by his own terrible past, Behr doesn't make it a practice to take on hopeless cases, but the desperate couple's plea for help awakens a personal pain he can't ignore . . .

My Take

Jamie Gabriel has been missing for 14 months when his parents Paul and Carol meet private investigator Frank Behr. As far as they can tell the police in Indianapolis gave up nearly a year ago on what seems to be a dead-end case. Behr takes on their case against his better judgement, and then he allows Paul to become his partner in the investigation, again against his better judgement.

This is the first novel in the Frank Behr series and we spend a lot of the book in getting to know him.
An ex-cop, Frank tries to focus on what the police haven't looked at. Where in his paper round did Jamie stop delivering the papers? What happened to his bike? Have other boys his age also gone missing? What do the cases have in common? These separate threads begin to yield results.

An intriguing novel that turns into a thriller at the end.
A good read.

My rating: 4.5

About the author
David Levien, author of Thirteen Million Dollar Pop, Where the Dead Lay, City of the Sun, and Signature Kill, has been nominated for the Edgar, Hammett, and Shamus awards. He is also a screenwriter and director, including co-director of Solitary Man (2009) starring Michael Douglas. He lives in Connecticut.

11 May 2019

Review: HIDDEN KILLERS, Lynda La Plante

  • this edition published 2016 by Simon & Schuster
  • ISBN 978-1-4711-4055-6
  • 496 pages
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

A prostitute dressed in a blue rabbit fur coat walks through the darkness of Hackney Fields, seemingly alone. But someone is waiting for her ...A woman is found dead in her bath, a small child crying in the room next door ...Is it accidental death or the perfect murder?

When WPC Jane Tennison is promoted to the role of Detective Constable in London's Bow Street CID, she is immediately conflicted. While her far more experience colleagues move on swiftly from one criminal case to another, Jane is often left with doubts about their findings. Becoming inextricably embroiled in a multiple-rape case, Jane must put her life at risk in the search for answers. Will she toe the CID line, or endanger her position by seeking the truth ...?

My Take

This book is the second in a series that Lynda La Plante wrote from 2015.
1. Tennison (2015)
2. Hidden Killers (2016)
3. Good Friday (2017)
4. Murder Mile (2018)
5. The Dirty Dozen (2019)

In the first book in the series, TENNISON, in the aftermath of an explosion in the bank vault, the police operation descends into pandemonium and panic. Police officers search the rubble for survivors and find Gibbs and a badly-injured. This incident and its impact on Tennison and colleagues is often referred to in HIDDEN KILLERS.

Actually though the background to this series needs mentioning. The televised series that resulted from the original PRIME SUSPECT books, featuring Helen Mirren as Jane Tennison, was immensely popular.
1. Prime Suspect (1991)
2. A Face in the Crowd (1992)
3. Silent Victims (1993)

Following on from the success of Prime Suspect, the author and ITV launched a new series, Prime Suspect 1973, a prequel to Prime Suspect. Set in London in the 1970's, this series, followed the early career of the formidable DCI Jane Tennison, the role that established Dame Helen Mirren as a household name. However La Plante walked away from the collaboration when she felt they were trying to change it too much. ITV scrapped the series but La Plante went on to write 4 more novels beginning with  HIDDEN KILLERS.

This book is really a collection of the cases that Detective Constable Jane Tennison becomes involved in beginning with a case where she is used as a decoy for a rapist.

My rating: 4.6

I've also read
4.5 ROYAL FLUSH aka ROYAL HEIST
4.5, DEADLY INTENT
4.5, TWISTED

5 May 2019

Review: THE AFTERMATH, Rhidian Brook

  • this edition published by Penguin.com 2013
  • ISBN 978-0-670-92291-8
  • 325 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Booktopia)

In the bitter winter of 1946, Rachael Morgan arrives with her only remaining son Edmund in the ruins of Hamburg. Here she is reunited with her husband Lewis, a British colonel charged with rebuilding the shattered city. But as they set off for their new home, Rachael is stunned to discover that Lewis has made an extraordinary decision: they will be sharing the grand house with its previous owners, a German widower and his troubled daughter. In this charged atmosphere, enmity and grief give way to passion and betrayal. 

My take

For followers of my blog: although this novel includes crimes, it is not really crime fiction.
It is part of a genre which explores "real" historical situations, particularly related to issues connected to World War 2.

The setting is Hamburg in 1946, ironically destroyed by British fire bombing late in the war with total devastation of the city and the loss of  thousands of "innocent" citizens. The area is now occupied by the British, Russian and the Americans and their mission is to "reform" the German citizens, to change their mind set, and make sure they see Hitler for what he was.

Lewis Morgan is the British officer in charge of this rehabilitation but he is among the humanitarian few who think that feeding the population, housing them, taking them off the streets, and re-establishing schools and work is much more important than working out those who still believe Hitler was right.

The British officers bring their families to Hamburg and settle into requisitioned housing. Some of them carry out vendettas against the German population, at the same time as beginning to repatriate art treasures etc to Britain.

For me the novel raised a number of interesting issues while telling a believable story.

My rating: 4.5

About the author
Reviewed in The Guardian in 2013
Rhidian Brook's family history handed him The Aftermath more or less on a plate. His grandfather, Walter Brook, allocated a requisitioned house in Hamburg in 1946, took the unusual decision to share it with the owners, rather than dispossessing them. 

(This review is quite critical of what it considers to be the thin-ness of the novel, and lost opportunities.)

1 May 2019

What I read in April 2019

10 books read this month
The best was actually the novella written by Jeffery Deaver

See what others have chosen for their Pick of the Month

Pick of the Month April 2019

Crime Fiction Pick of the Month 2019
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 April 2019, 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 April 2019

Review: HOUSE OF GLASS, Susan Fletcher

  • this edition published by Virago Press 2018
  • ISBN 9-780349-007656
  • 357 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

I had a curious sense of being watched.

June 1914 and a young woman - Clara Waterfield - is summoned to a large stone house in Gloucestershire. Her task: to fill a greenhouse with exotic plants from Kew Gardens, to create a private paradise for the owner of Shadowbrook. Yet on arrival, Clara hears rumours: something is wrong with this quiet, wisteria-covered house. Its gardens are filled with foxgloves, hydrangea and roses; it has lily ponds, a croquet lawn - and the marvellous new glasshouse awaits her. But the house itself feels unloved. Its rooms are shuttered or empty. The owner is mostly absent; the housekeeper and maids seem afraid. And soon Clara understands their fear, for something - or someone - is walking through the house at night.

In the height of summer, she finds herself drawn deeper into Shadowbrook's dark interior - and into the secrets that violently haunt this house.

Nothing - not even the men who claim they wish to help her - is quite what it seems.

Reminiscent of Daphne du Maurier, this is a wonderful, atmospheric Gothic novel.

My Take:

As the blurb says, this attempts, and largely succeeds, to be an atmospheric Gothic style novel.
The mystery isn't confined to what is happening in Shadowbank and what has happened there before.

Clara Waterfield has had a confined childhood largely caused by the disease she has - brittle bones- which makes her susceptible to fractures. Her mother has recently died, and there is mystery there related to who Clara's father is.
After a relatively short time of studying plants at Kew Gardens, through the head keeper Clara is surprisingly invited to oversee the set up of a large glass house in the country.

There she hears stories about the recent owners of the house. The current owner who is paying for Clara's glass house project is frequently away and it is weeks before she meets him.

This is a book that keeps you reading even if only to solve the mystery of what is happening in the house.

My rating: 4.4

I have previously read:
4.8, THE HIGHLAND WITCH (aka CORRAG)

27 April 2019

Review: MARLBOROUGH MAN, Alan Carter

  • format: audio (mainly) Audible
  • Narrated by: Jerome Pride
  • Length: 10 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 12-01-18
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Whole Story Audiobooks
Synopsis (Audible)

Nick Chester is working as a sergeant for the Havelock police in the Marlborough Sound, at the top of New Zealand’s South Island. If the river isn’t flooded and the land hasn’t slipped, it’s paradise. Unless you are also hiding from a ruthless man with a grudge, in which case remote beauty has its own kind of danger. In the last couple of weeks, two locals have vanished. Their bodies are found, but the Pied Piper is still at large.

Marlborough Man is a gripping story about the hunter and the hunted and about what happens when evil takes hold in a small town.

Ngaio Marsh Award 2018
Alan Carter’s Marlborough Man (Fremantle Press) has won the 2018 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel.
The novel, about an ex-undercover agent from England trying to distance himself from his dangerous past and settle into a quieter life as a local cop in the Marlborough Sound, was chosen from a shortlist of six, with judges calling it a ‘terrific, full-throated crime thriller that puts the freshest of spins on the cop-with-a-past trope’.

My Take

This novel has a chequered history for me. I began reading it on my kindle, then found an audio version which I decided to listen to with my fellow traveller on our weekend journeys. At the end of today I had just an hour left to listen to and so decided to read the final chapters on my kindle.

For some reason I didn't at first really take to Jerome Pride's Geordie narration, but as it proceeded the story took over. By the end I really just wanted to know how the story came together.

Nick Chester is a cop from Sunderland (UK) who was part of an undercover operation to bring down one of the local underworld bosses. He has been sent to New Zealand as part of a protection programme, and for the first half of the novel is waiting for the thugs to catchup with him.  When they finally arrive though, and that element of the plot is solved, the local elements of child abductions takes over.

The New Zealand setting and excellent writing gives him the 2018 Ngaio Marsh award.
Also shortlisted for the 2018 Ned Kelly Award.

Good reading.
It reminded me that I really need to read more Alan Carter.

My rating: 4.6

I've also read
4.7, PRIME CUT
4.7, GETTING WARMER

24 April 2019

Review: THE SHADOW HOUR, Kate Riordan

  • This edition published by Michael Joseph 2016
  • ISBN 978-0-7181-7929-8
  • 504 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (publisher)

Two generations of women, and one house that holds the terrible secrets of their pasts.

Nineteen twenty-two. Grace has been sent to the stately and crumbling Fenix House to follow in her grandmother's footsteps as a governess. But when she meets the house's inhabitants, people who she had only previously heard of in stories, the cracks in her grandmother's tale begin to show. Secrets appear to live in the house's very walls and everybody is resolutely protecting their own.

Why has she been sent here? Why did her grandmother leave after just one summer? And as the past collides with the present, can Grace unravel these secrets and discover who her grandmother, and who she, really is?

My Take

This novel is mystery rather crime fiction. although crimes are committed.

My first reaction was that its structure was rather too similar to THE GIRL IN THE PHOTOGRAPH which I read just recently. But that actually probably doesn't matter- the novelist has hit on a winning formula - two plot strands work their way towards each other, one forwards from 1878 and one backwards from 1922.

In 1922 Fenix House is no longer the grand house with many servants that it had been in 1878. All the stories that Grace's grandmother Harriet tells her about the house come from the earlier time and so she finds the house very different to what she expects.

Grace understands that her grandmother has sent her to the house with a purpose, although she is to stand on her own two feet, and not to reveal that her grandmother was also once the governess.

A good read for those who like slightly gothic novels with a touch of mystery.

My rating: 4.5

I've also read
4.5, THE GIRL IN THE PHOTOGRAPH


23 April 2019

Review: LAST WORDS, Michael Koryta

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 1348 KB
  • Print Length: 449 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (August 27, 2015)
  • Publication Date: August 27, 2015
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00T39BL98
Synopsis (Amazon)

Private investigator Mark Novak is still mourning the death of his wife, and it's affecting his work. With his future on the line, Mark is sent to check out a case in the Midwest town of Garrison, home to a famous but perilous cave system. A girl has died in the caves, and the man who brought her out is still believed by many to be her killer. He begs Novak to uncover what really happened.

But Garrison is the kind of place where cold cases stay cold. Mark tries to delve into the town's secrets, but in the end, he will have to match his wits against the man who knows the caverns better than anyone. A man who seems to have lost his mind. A man who seems to know Mark Novak all too well.

My take

On the day that Mark Novak's wife Lauren was killed they parted harshly, she investigating something that he didn't think was her responsibility. He finds it hard to forget how they parted and at his investigative work for the company Innocence Inc (which does pro bono legal work challenging death row and freeing the wrongly convicted) Mark makes poor decisions, such that the board questions his commitment. As they discuss his future Mark is sent to Garrison to investigate a death in the caves. The main setting is a largely unexplored cave system in Southern Indiana. Ostensibly Mark is sent there to redeem himself.

However he feels very little interest in the case as he feels that there is really no case for Innocence Inc. to pick up.

However there are some very strange characters in this novel, and despite himself Mark becomes involved.

This was a novel that it took me a while to get into, perhaps because I didn't really like the character of Mark himself, and partly because there are some really dark passages in the novel.

At the end of the novel, there is so obviously an opening for a sequel.

My rating:  4.3

About the author

Michael Koryta (pronounced Ko-ree-ta) is the New York Times-bestselling author of 11 suspense novels. His work has been praised by Stephen King, Michael Connelly, Lee Child, Dean Koontz, James Patterson, Dennis Lehane, Daniel Woodrell, Ron Rash, and Scott Smith among many others, and has been translated into more than 20 languages. His books have won or been nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Edgar® Award, Shamus Award, Barry Award, Quill Award, International Thriller Writers Award, and the Golden Dagger. They’ve been selected as “best books of the year” by publications as diverse as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Amazon.com, O the Oprah Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, People, Reader’s Digest, iBooks, and Kirkus Reviews.LAST WORDS is the beginning of a new series.

22 April 2019

Review: THE SHAPE OF LIES, Rachel Abbott

  • format Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 2499 KB
  • Print Length: 339 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Black Dot Publishing Ltd (February 12, 2019)
  • Publication Date: February 12, 2019
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  •  ASIN: B07MJBP898
  • #8 in the DCI Tom Douglas series

Synopsis (Amazon)

Yesterday, Scott was dead. Today, he’s back.
And Anna doesn’t believe in ghosts.

Scott was Anna’s boyfriend. She loved him, but he ruined her life. When he died, she should have been free, but today Scott is on the radio, threatening to spill her secrets.

Anna is a mother, a wife, and head teacher of a primary school.
And she’s a good liar.

She made one mistake, and now she is having to pay for it. Scott is the only person who knows the truth about her past, but how can he be alive?

Soon, DCI Tom Douglas is going to knock on her door looking for answers. But Anna is already running scared: from the man she loved; the man she watched die; the man who has come back to life.

She has one week to find him. One week to stop him.

My Take

In most of the earlier titles in this series I have had a lot of empathy for the main character.
And that was the way things started with this novel.

Anna's husband Domenic hasn't worked for 18 months, since he was kneecapped in a mugging. Since then he has been the stay-at-home dad, she the principal at  nearby public school. She is driving to school when she tunes into a chat show, where a participant reveals that he plans to reveal all about a former affair. His name is Scott and he calls his former girlfriend Spike, and she thinks she recognises herself. The problem is that Scott is dead. And her husband Domenic knows nothing about what she and Scott did.

I'm afraid the more I got to know about Anna's past, the less I liked her.

The other problem I had with this novel is that, for the main plot to work, there had to be rather too many other plot lines, and too many changes in the main characters.

My rating: 4.4

I've also read
4.8, ONLY THE INNOCENT #1
4.9, THE BACK ROAD #2
4.6, SLEEP TIGHT #3
4.5, STRANGER CHILD #4
4.6, COME A LITTLE CLOSER #7
4.6, THE SIXTH WINDOW #6
4.5, KILL ME AGAIN #5

15 April 2019

Review: DISAPPEARED, Anthony J. Quinn

  • this edition published by Head of Zeus UK in 2015
  • ISBN 9781781858998
  • 252 pages
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

In Northern Ireland's darkest corner, the Troubles have never ended

Though bombs no longer rock Belfast, for some the fight goes on. Retired Special Branch agent David Hughes disappears after looking into the previously closed case of Oliver Jordan, who went missing at the hands of the IRA decades ago. Soon after, a former spy is found bludgeoned to death, the day after placing his own obituary in the newspaper. Beneath Northern Ireland's modern calm, ancient jealousies threaten to rend the country asunder once more.

A Catholic detective in a Protestant nation, Celcius Daly knows too well the agonies of sectarian strife. To solve this string of murders, he must reach decades into the past, confronting a painful history that Ireland would prefer to forget.

My Take

To be honest, for most of the time I found this novel hard going. I empathised with David Hughes who has Alzheimer's and is extremely frustrated because his memory is rather like a patchwork quilt with large holes. I understood young Dermot Jordan's desire to know where his father is buried, and perhaps even to clear his name.

But I struggled to remember which side was which, and who had done what.

Someone who has a better understanding of The Troubles would obviously enjoy the book far more. Thank you Anthony Quinn for trying to educate me!

My rating: 3.6

I've read
4.6, CURTAIN CALL
4.3, THE LISTENERS

9 April 2019

Review: A KILLING NIGHT, Jonathon King

  • this edition published in 2005 by Orion
  • #4 in the Max Freeman series
  • ISBN 0-75286-936-1
  • 289 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

Max Freeman is at a crossroads. No longer content to live solely in his remote shack in the Everglades, he is looking to move beyond his self-imposed isolation. So when his onetime girlfriend, Detective Sherry Richards, asks for his help as a private investigator in nailing an ex-cop she suspects of killing several young women in South Florida, Max is ready to help her see justice done.

But there's a problem. Sherry's suspect is a former police officer from Philadelphia who served with Max; a brother-in-blue who once saved Max's life. Matters are made worse when Max's own aggressive investigation leads him to believe that Sherry's crusade to protect these women is about to roll over a possibly innocent man.

Caught between his loyalty to Sherry and his debt to his fellow ex-cop, Max's search for the truth will take him back to the streets of Philadelphia, where he will dig into his fellow officer's troubled past . . . only to come face-to-face with his own. And while Max continues his quest, a controlling, cunning killer inexorably closes in on what could be his next victim. . . . 

My take

Three female bartenders in South Florida have gone missing and the finger of suspicion points at Colin O'Shea, a childhood friend of Max Freeman's, also a former cop that he worked with in Philadelphia. But Colin swears he is innocent and Max believes him.

So Max finds himself trying to work out if there is a serial killer on the loose, and at the same time he is trying to prove that it isn't Colin.

Max is also working for Billy Manchester, a black attorney that he also grew up with in Philadelphia. Billy is working on a case of cruise liner employees who are being threatened by stand over thugs,

I found the story a bit slow in the beginning. The author seemed to need to fill me in on some details that I already knew even though I have only read #1 in the series. This story has many strands and both Max and the serial killer speak in the first person, which initially takes a bit of careful reading,

My rating: 4.4

4.4, THE BLUE EDGE OF MIDNIGHT

7 April 2019

Review: NINTH AND NOWHERE, Jeffery Deaver

  • format: kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 4956 KB
  • Print Length: 52 pages
  • Publisher: Amazon Original Stories (January 29, 2019)
  • Publication Date: January 29, 2019
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B07JYPTLJW
Synopsis (Amazon)

Seven strangers. Two hours. One tragic moment of violence that changes everything.

In this electrifying short story by New York Times bestselling author of The Never Game Jeffery Deaver, the destinies of seven strangers intersect in ways no one sees coming. It looks like just another gray March morning in the tough urban district nicknamed Nowhere when seven lives converge: a young man intent on buying a gun; the gangbanger who cuts him a deal; a by-the-book police officer on a last patrol; an advertising executive keeping secrets from her husband; a veteran haunted by a combat death; a single dad in a bitter custody battle; and a sharp-looking businessman en route to a new job he desperately needs. Any one of them could have a dark motive. Any one of them could be walking into a trap. When the fog lifts, it will all be much clearer—that a single, shattering act of violence has marked each of them forever.

My Take

I liked the way each of the 7 main characters was introduced in this novella. Inevitably as the author described each of the characters I made a judgement about them, but, as it turned out I was very wrong.

Tension builds as the reader realises each character is heading towards Ninth Ave in Nowhere and you know that something is going to happen.

An excellent read. Highly recommended.

My rating: 4.8

Review: THE MURDER AT REDMIRE HALL, J. R. Ellis - audio book

  • audio book from Audible.com
  • Narrated by: Michael Page
  • Series: Yorkshire Murder Mystery Series, Book 3
  • Length: 9 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 09-13-18
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Synopsis (Audible.com)

An impossible murder behind a locked door. Can DCI Oldroyd find the key to the mystery?

Lord Redmire’s gambling habit has placed him in serious debt. Determined to salvage his fortune by putting Redmire Hall on the map, the aristocrat performs an impossible locked-door illusion on live TV. But as the cameras roll, his spectacular trick goes fatally wrong....

Special guest DCI Jim Oldroyd has a front-row seat, but in all his years with the West Riding Police he’s never witnessed anything like this. He sees Redmire disappear - and then reappear, dead, with a knife in his back.

As Oldroyd and DS Stephanie Johnson soon discover, nearly everyone at the event had a reason to resent the eccentric lord. But how did the murderer get into the locked room - or out, for that matter?

When the only other person who knew the secret behind the illusion is brutally silenced, the case begins to look unsolvable. Because as Oldroyd and Johnson know, it’s not just a question of who did it and why - but how?

My take

This is the third, for the moment, the last,  in the cozy mystery series featuring DCI Olroyd and his colleague DS Stephanie Johnson. The audio book is well produced and is engaging listening.

Lord Redmire's father was the one who had the locked room trick installed in his house, but once performed, it was forgotten for over 30 years. now his son wants to use the trick to bring tourists to the house.

He invites DCI Oldroyd to be an official witness at the operation of the trick, but that actually has the effect of ensuring that the police  are at hand to begin the investigation into Lord Redmire's death.

I certainly hope there are more titles to come in the series.

My rating: 4.4

See my other reviews in this series
4.3, THE  BODY IN THE DALES
4.4, THE QUARTET MURDERS

6 April 2019

Review: THE GIRL WHO WOULDN'T DIE, Marnie Riches

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 1124 KB
  • Print Length: 314 pages
  • Publisher: Avon (April 2, 2015)
  • Publication Date: April 2, 2015
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00U1K18VY
Synopsis (Amazon)

HE’S WATCHING HER. SHE DOESN’T KNOW IT…YET

When a bomb explodes at the University of Amsterdam, aspiring criminologist Georgina McKenzie is asked by the police to help flush out the killer.

But the bomb is part of a much bigger, more sinister plot that will have the entire city quaking in fear.

And the killer has a very special part for George to play…

A thrilling race against time with a heroine you’ll be rooting for, this book will keep you up all night!

WINNER OF THE 2015 DEAD GOOD READER AWARD FOR MOST EXOTIC LOCATION

My Take

I'm afraid this book didn't grab me in quite the way the blurb promised. I found the plot overly complex and black. It would probably appeal to a much younger reader.

George McKenzie presents as a Cambridge student studying sociology in Amsterdam where girls are going missing. When a bomb explodes in an old library of the University of Amsterdam, and other students go missing, it is George who works out that there must be some connection with the faculty she belongs to. That's when the reader finds out that George is not quite who she seems.

Not quite my cup of tea.

My rating: 3.5

About the author
Marnie Riches is an award-winning, best-selling British author of crime-fiction, making her debut in the US with "The Girl Who Wouldn't Die" - the first novel in her gritty, gripping George McKenzie series. The series of five books has sold approaching two hundred thousand copies in the UK and continues to garner critical acclaim from her peers and in the press, as well as a loyal readership.

Marnie grew up in a tough neighborhood in Manchester, England, infamous for its violent crime but loved for its world-class music and friendly people. Exchanging the spires of nearby Strangeways prison for those of Cambridge University, she gained a post-grad degree in German & Dutch. She has been a punk, a trainee rock star, a pretend artist and professional fundraiser. When she's not writing, Marnie likes to run, refurbish old houses and drink gin.

Her George McKenzie crime thrillers, tackling the subject of trans-national trafficking, were inspired by her time spent in The Netherlands. "The Girl Who Wouldn't Die" and subsequent four books are must-reads for all fans of Scandinavian and British mystery, suspense and thrillers, who love a kickass heroine who will happily flout the rules if it means catching a killer. George's partnership with troubled Inspector Paul van den Bergen of the Dutch police and her complex family relationships back in London have readers returning, book after book, to see how George's life unfolds...

Marnie is also the author of "Born Bad" and "The Cover-Up" - the critically acclaimed UK hit series about Manchester's notorious gangland.

2 April 2019

Meme: NEW TO ME AUTHORS January to March 2019

Some really good reads among these: 14 read in 3 months
Not all crime fiction
  1. 4.6, MINE, J.L. Butler
  2. 4.7, THE DARKEST PLACE, Jo Spain 
  3. 4.6, WEEPING WATERS, Karin Brynard
  4. 4.2, AS THE CROW FLIES, Damien Boyd 
  5. 4.3, THE  BODY IN THE DALES, J. R. Ellis
  6. 4.4, THE KOOKABURRA CREEK CAFE, Sandie Docker not crime fic
  7. 4.3, THREE GOLD COINS, Josephine Moon not crime fic
  8. 4.4, THE NOWHERE CHILD, Christian White 
  9. 4.4, THE BLUE EDGE OF MIDNIGHT, Jonathon King
  10. 4.2, SOMETHING IN THE WATER, Catherine Steadman
  11. 4.1, MURDER UNDER A GREEN SEA, Phillip Hunter
  12. 4.4, THE BOOK CLUB, Mary Alice Monroe not crime fic
  13. 4.8, THE MARRIAGE CLUB, Kate Legge not crime fic
  14. 4.5, THE GIRL IN THE PHOTOGRAPH, Kate Riordan mystery rather than crime fic 

What I read in March 2019

A good month
Pick of the Month March 2019
  1. 4.3, THREE GOLD COINS, Josephine Moon - Australian author, not crime 
  2. 4.4, THE NOWHERE CHILD, Christian White - Australian author 
  3. 4.4, THE BLUE EDGE OF MIDNIGHT, Jonathon King
  4. 4.4, A STRANGER IN THE FAMILY, Robert Barnard 
  5. 4.2, SOMETHING IN THE WATER, Catherine Steadman
  6. 4.3, THE LISTENERS, Anthony J. Quinn
  7. 4.4, THE QUARTET MURDERS, J. R. Ellis - audio book
  8. 4.1, MURDER UNDER A GREEN SEA, Phillip Hunter  
  9. 4.4, THE BOOK CLUB, Mary Alice Monroe - not crime fiction
  10. 4.7, SHARP OBJECTS, Gillian Flynn
  11. 4.8, THE MARRIAGE CLUB, Kate Legge
  12. 4.5, THE GIRL IN THE PHOTOGRAPH, Kate Riordan   
See what others have read this month.

1 April 2019

New to me authors - January to March 2019

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 January to March 2019, 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 throughout 2019.  Expect it to appear at the end of June.
 

Pick of the Month: MARCH 2019

Crime Fiction Pick of the Month 2019
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 March 2019, 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.


29 March 2019

Review: THE GIRL IN THE PHOTOGRAPH, Kate Riordan

  • this edition published by Michael Joseph 2015
  • aka FIERCOMBE MANOR
  • ISBN 978-0-7181-7928-1
  • 438 pages
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

Fans of Kate Mosse and Kate Morton will love this haunting novel about two women separated by decades, but entwined by fate.

When Alice Eveleigh arrives at Fiercombe Manor during the long, languid summer of 1933, she finds a house steeped in mystery and brimming with secrets. Sadness permeates its empty rooms and the isolated valley seems crowded with ghosts, none more alluring than Elizabeth Stanton whose only traces remain in a few tantalisingly blurred photographs.

Why will no one speak of her? What happened a generation ago to make her vanish?

As the sun beats down relentlessly, Alice becomes ever more determined to unearth the truth about the girl in the photograph - and stop her own life from becoming an eerie echo of Elizabeth's . . .

My Take

This novel, Riordan's debut title, is mystery rather crime fiction.

The novel is the story of two women, separated by nearly four decades of time. Alice Eveleigh has come to Fiercombe Manor to hide a pregnancy, while Elizabeth Stanton was desperate to to produce a son for her mercurial husband.

Alice has seen a photograph of Elizabeth and is consumed by a desire to know what eventually happened to her. The housekeeper at the manor knows the full story but everytime Alice asks Mrs Jelphs clams up.

The story is told through their two voices.

There is a very Gothic feel to the novel, and the story was well told.
I'm sure I will be looking for another by this author.

My rating: 4.5

About the author
Kate Riordan is a writer and journalist from England. Her first job was as an editorial assistant at the Guardian newspaper, followed by a stint as deputy editor for the lifestyle section of London bible, Time Out magazine. There she had assignments that saw her racing reindeers in Lapland, going undercover in Londons premier department store and gleaning writing tips (none-too subtly) during interviews with some of her favorite authors.

Novels
Fiercombe Manor (2015)
     aka The Girl in the Photograph
The Red Letter (2016)
The Shadow Hour (2016)
The Stranger (2018)
Birdcage Walk (2019)
The Heatwave (2020)

26 March 2019

Review: THE MARRIAGE CLUB, Kate Legge

  • this edition published in 2009 by Penguin Australia
  • ISBN 978-0-670-07298-9
  • 292 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Penguin Australia)

On Monday, Leith Kremmer's book-club friends meet in her lounge room, catch up on each other's lives, and indulge in her elegant champagne supper. Upstairs, Leith's husband George practises his golf swing. The next morning Leith is dead, under suspicious circumstances.

One week later, George, a family-court judge, has delved into his marriage - including Leith's long-held secrets, and his own - in a desperate attempt to comprehend her death. And Leith's friends, in examining their own marriages, have emerged far from unscathed. Was Leith the charming ally they thought they knew? And do they really know their own partners?

The Marriage Club takes place over the course of one tumultuous week. As everyone begins to tease out the truth, they are finally able to let down their guards and be their real selves. If only they could have done so earlier . . .
'A novel of secrets and lies, [where] illusions are shattered in the most fascinating way.'

My Take

We are not at all sure that a crime has been committed. Certainly a death has occurred.

Leith Kremmer's friends meeting at their monthly book club think she is very chipper. She even has champagne for them, but none suspect the secrets she has kept. In a way they have all kept secrets and Leith's death has a domino effect. The police begin an investigation, interviewing both the members of the book club and their husbands. Leith's mobile phone hints at the tip of an iceberg.

Marriages aren't always what they seem, and sometimes it doesn't take much for them shred.

An excellent read, with the answer to that final question held to the very end.

My rating: 4.8

About the author
Kate Legge writes for The Weekend Australian Magazine. She has covered politics and social affairs in Australia and America. She has published two novels: The Unexpected Elements of Love (long listed for the Miles Franklin Award) and The Marriage Club.

24 March 2019

Review: SHARP OBJECTS, Gillian Flynn

  • this edition published by W&N 2018
  • originally published in 2006
  • ISBN 978-1-4746-0161-0
  • 328 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Amazon)

Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, reporter Camille Preaker faces a troubling assignment: she must return to her tiny hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. For years, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town.

Now, installed in her old bedroom in her family's Victorian mansion, Camille finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Dogged by her own demons, she must unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past if she wants to get the story—and survive this homecoming.

My Take

I remember the stir in crime fiction circles when this novel was first published, but somehow never got around to reading it.

And what a page turner it is!

Camille Preaker's editor of the Chicago paper she works for thinks she will benefit from returning to her home town of Wind Gap, 11 hours south of Chicago, to cover the story of the murder of two young girls. After all he can save money in accommodation as she can stay with her mother whom she hasn't talked to for 8 years. He thinks also that because she comes from the town that it will be easier for her to pick up rumours and insider information, A real recipe for disaster.

Camille feels neither safe nor welcome in her mother's house. She knows for example that her mother does not like her and there lies between them the memory of her younger sister Marian, who died a decade before. She is also haunted by her own memories of being a rebellious and hard to control teenager.

A good read.

My rating: 4.7

I've also read
4.8, GONE GIRL
4.2, THE GROWN UP
4.5, DARK PLACES

21 March 2019

Review: THE BOOK CLUB, Mary Alice Monroe

  • this edition published in 2012 by Harlequin Australia
  • ISBN 978-1921-79579-4
  • 350 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Publisher)

On the surface, it's a monthly book club. But for five women, it is so much more. For Eve, whose husband's sudden death cheats her of every security she had planned on, the club is a place of sanctuary. For Annie, a brilliant attorney intent on starting a family late in life, it is the chance to finally let down her guard and dream of other possibilities. For Doris, it is her support group as she acknowledges her dying marriage and finds the ultimate freedom in her husband's betrayal. For Gabriella, the 'perfect' wife, mother and friend who offers support to everyone but is afraid to ask for it herself, it is a sense of community. And for Midge, an artist who has always lived her life against the grain, it is a haven of acceptance.

They are five women from different walks of life, embracing the challenge of change. As they share their hopes and fears and triumphs, they will hold fast to the true magic of the book club – friendship.

My take

Another departure from my usual crime fiction fare.

Five women have belonged to this book club for years and the events of this story show how it is about much more than just reading books. Each of the women go through life changing events and the monthly book club provides a point of stability when all around is rocky.

The primary voice is Eve whose husband dies suddenly while he is away on a regular trip. Her life is shattered and all her security is destroyed. For some months she feels unable to meet with the Book Club but eventually finds her way back to them as a group.

The action takes place over nearly 18 months and each of the women goes through a crisis where the support of the others becomes pivotal.

A good read.

My rating: 4.4

About the author

Mary Alice Monroe is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of thirteen novels. Her books received numerous awards, including the Award for Writing from the South Carolina Center for the Book and the International Fiction Award for Green Fiction. An active conservationist, she lives in the lowcountry of South Carolina where she is at work on her next novel. Visit her at www.maryalicemonroe.com and on Facebook.

17 March 2019

Review: MURDER UNDER A GREEN SEA, Phillip Hunter

  • this edition published by Mirror Books 2019
  • provided as a review book by the publisher
  • ISBN 9-781912-624164
  • 329 pages
Synopsis (Mirror Books)

There's a murder on the streets of London, a plot that threatens the country and a dinner party to arrange. Only one man can help. Unfortunately, he's got a terrible hangover...

Set in 1936, Murder Under a Green Sea is the story of Max and Martha Dalton, a young couple who seem to live a carefree life of luxury and dinner parties, far removed from the increasingly brutal world.

When an old army friend is murdered, Max finds himself drawn into the crime and back to his own past.

As the police suspect Max guilty of the murder, he believes there must be a connection with a tragic crime committed in the muddy hell of the Western Front.

Police suspicions grow along with a body count featuring one too many of Max's former comrades.

With Martha, he sets out to unravel a knotted series of events, motivations and lies, while being pursued by a police force convinced that he's the murderer, and with unknown assassins hot on his trail.

With the slightly dubious help of Martha, their maid, Flora, Flora's sweetheart, Eric, and a very confused solicitor, Max manages to uncover a plot that threatens the safety of the whole country.

This is an action-packed caper, cleverly plotted with engaging characters.

My Take

Max is a freelance London journalist but his stories don't always make publication. He is particularly concerned about Hitler's rearmament of the Rhineland, and that a second World War is imminent. He meets up with a friend from the First War, Burton, but became too drunk to remember what Burton and he talked about. And now Burton has been found dead, and the police think Max has something to do with it.

Max manages to find out that Burton came up to London with another from their platoon and now both are dead.

The author has tried to recreate a Tommy and Tuppence feel to his characters Max and Martha, and even draws Winston Churchill into his plot.


My rating: 4.1

About the author
Phillip Hunter has a degree in English Literature from Middlesex University and an MA in Screenwriting from the London Institute. He was part of the team that sequenced the human genome. He lives in Saffron Walden, Essex.

Review: THE QUARTET MURDERS, J. R. Ellis - audio book

  •  Narrated by: Michael Page
  • Series: Yorkshire Murder Mystery Series, Book 2
  • Length: 9 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 08-09-18
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio
  • available from Audible.com
Synopsis (Audible.com)


A priceless violin. And a dark secret someone is prepared to kill for.

DCI Oldroyd has seen his fair share of victims, but he has never witnessed a murder - until now. When world-famous violinist Hans Muller is shot and killed during a concert, the detective is faced with a case beyond logic. The culprit is nowhere to be found - and the victim’s priceless violin has disappeared too.

As Oldroyd investigates the mystery of the murderer’s identity and the motive for the killing, he enters the ruthless world of wealthy instrument collectors and stumbles upon a dark path where shocking secrets have been buried in the past. But the secrets will soon take centre stage.

Oldroyd must use all his cunning to recover the priceless instrument. But can he also solve the mystery of a murderer who vanished in front of his own eyes?

My Take

Oldroyd's offsider is again DS Carter, the new man from London, But I think his character was better drawn than in the first novel in the series.

I liked the further fleshing out of Oldroyd's character and I thought the mystery was better plotted.
Narrator Michael Page again does a good job of his voice presentation.
This series is engaging enough for me to look for another audio book.

My rating: 4.4

I've also listened to
4.3, THE  BODY IN THE DALES

12 March 2019

Review: THE LISTENERS, Anthony J. Quinn

  • this edition published by Head of Zeus 2018
  • ISBN 9-781786-696069
  • 309 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Amazon UK)

A new crime series set in the brooding landscape of the Scottish borders from the author of the Celcius Daly series.

Not long out of the fast-track training course at Edinburgh's police college, Detective Sergeant Carla Herron is about to be tested to breaking point.

She's been called to Deepwell psychiatric hospital in the Scottish borders to interview a patient who has confessed to the murder of one of the hospital's psychotherapists. The confession is vividly detailed, but for a man locked in a secure ward and under 24-hour surveillance, it is also utterly impossible.

So why can't the supposedly murdered psychotherapist be contacted? Why are the hospital staff so secretive, so difficult to work with? Why have other Deepwell patients made disturbingly similar confessions over the past year? Against the advice of her superiors, Carla delves deeper into the hospital's past and is plunged into a labyrinth of jealousies, lies and hallucinations.

Struggling to separate fact from fantasy, Carla embarks on a chilling trail through the bleak uplands and dark forests of the Scottish borders, every step taking her closer to a final – deadly – reckoning.

My Take

An interesting read on a number of levels. Carla Herron is not only new to the job, she is a young mother with 2 young children and a husband working from home, and he is not coping.

Her colleague D. I. Morton is a strange fish, silent most of the time, consequently difficult to work with, and with secrets of his own. Carla feels she is not being told the whole story, and then Morton tells her she is doing a good job.

Carla interviews a man at Deepwell Psychiatric Hospital who claims he has murdered several people, and the last psychotherapist he talked to has gone missing. Carla can see that McCrea is convinced he has committed several murders. But how could he? He hasn't left the hospital.

This novel has a very Gothic feel to it and there are many very dark passages, Deepwell is engaged in some peculiar perhaps innovative practices to do with memory, and Carla has difficulty in determining exactly what those practices involve, and indeed who is using them. Staff at the hospital keep telling her to consult others, that they are not at liberty to fully answer her questions.

My rating: 4.3

About the author
Anthony J Quinn was born in 1971 in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, and after completing an English degree at Queen's University followed various callings - social worker, organic market gardener, yoga teacher - before finding work as a journalist and author.
Disappeared, his first novel, was picked by the Times and the Daily Mail as one of their books of the year, and was nominated for the Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. On its US publication it was shortlisted for a Strand Critics Award, as selected by book critics from the Washington Post, the LA Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Guardian.
Quinn works as a reporter in the wilds of County Tyrone. His short stories have been short-listed twice for a Hennessy/New Irish Writing Award. In 2014, he was given an ACES award for literature from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, and in 2016 was selected as Northern Ireland Libraries Writer in Residence.
He is represented by Paul Feldstein of the Feldstein Agency. For more information log onto www.anthonyjquinnwriter.com

10 March 2019

review: SOMETHING IN THE WATER, Catherine Steadman

Synopsis (publisher)

If you could make one simple choice that would change your life forever, would you?

Erin is a documentary filmmaker on the brink of a professional breakthrough, Mark a handsome investment banker with big plans. Passionately in love, they embark on a dream honeymoon to the tropical island of Bora Bora, where they enjoy the sun, the sand, and each other. Then, while scuba diving in the crystal blue sea, they find something in the water. . . .

Could the life of your dreams be the stuff of nightmares?

Suddenly the newlyweds must make a dangerous choice: to speak out or to protect their secret. After all, if no one else knows, who would be hurt? Their decision will trigger a devastating chain of events. . . .

Have you ever wondered how long it takes to dig a grave?

Wonder no longer. Catherine Steadman’s enthralling voice shines throughout this spellbinding debut novel. With piercing insight and fascinating twists, Something in the Water challenges the reader to confront the hopes we desperately cling to, the ideals we’re tempted to abandon, and the perfect lies we tell ourselves.

My Take

In opening pages of the novel we meet Erin digging a grave. By the end of Chapter 1 we know who the grave is for, and then in the rest of the novel we find out what led up to this.

Erin is a documentary film maker tracking the lives of 3 very different people as they finish their jail sentences and leave jail. The first one, Holli, she finds "creepy", but she gets close to the other two Alexa and Eddie for very different reasons.

Just before Erin and Mark get married Mark loses his job as an investment banker. They make changes to their wedding plans, cutting costs where they can, and cut their honeymoon on Bora Bora to 2 weeks. But both have become used to an expensive life style and this determines how they will react to what they find in the water when they are scuba diving.

Neither is entirely truthful to the other and each keeps things back, so there are some surprises towards the end of the novel. I felt both characters changed as the novel developed, and I thought there was an element of "what else can I throw at them?" in the final plot.

My rating: 4.2

About the author
Catherine Steadman (b. 1987) is an actress and writer based in North London. She is known for her roles in Downton Abbey and Tutankhamun, starring alongside Sam Neill, as well as shows including Breathless, The Inbetweeners, The Tudors, and Fresh Meat. She also has appeared on stage in the West End including Oppenheimer for the RSC, for which she was nominated for a 2016 Laurence Olivier Award.

8 March 2019

Review: A STRANGER IN THE FAMILY, Robert Barnard

  • this edition published in 2010 by Allison & Busby
  • ISBN 978-0-7490-0822-2
  • 255 pages
Synopsis (Amazon)

Kit Philipson has always felt like something of a stranger in his family. Growing up as the only child of professional parents in Glasgow, Scotland, he had every advantage. His mother was a teacher; his father, a journalist, escaped from Nazi Germany at the age of three on one of the 1939 Kindertransports. But on her deathbed, Kit’s mother tells him he was adopted and that his birth name was Novello. Soon, vague memories of his early life begin to surface: his nursery, pictures on the wall, the smell of his birth mother when she’d been cooking. And, sometimes, there are more disturbing memories—of strangers taking him by the hand and leading him away from the only family he had ever known.

A search of old newspaper files reveals that a three-year-old boy named Peter Novello was abducted from his parents’ holiday hotel in Sicily in 1989. Now the young man who has known himself only as Kit sets out to rediscover his past, the story of two three-year-old boys torn from their mothers in very different circumstances. Kit’'s probing inquiries are sure to bring surprises. They may also unearth dangerous secrets that dare never be revealed.

With sharp wit and deep insight, Robert Barnard sweeps away all preconceptions in this powerful study of maternal love and the danger of obsession.

My Take

After the death of his adoptive mother Kit Philipson decides to contact his birth mother to see what she can tell him about how he came to be adopted. By the time he meets her Kit knows that he was abducted while on holiday with his family at the age of 3. His welcome by his birth mother is effusive but that by her children is very guarded.

Kit comes to suspect that he was abducted to order, and that his adoptive father possibly knew more than he ever told. His search for the truth takes him to Leeds, to Vienna, and to Sicily.

An interesting if not particularly believable plot, with some quite nasty characters.

An author I should read more by.

My rating: 4.4

I've also read
4.1 THE KILLINGS ON JUBILEE TERRACE

About the author 1936-2013
He was a prolific writer, creating more than 30 published works during his life. These also included several non-fiction works which studied other authors, including books on the Bronte sisters. His writing style was very varied, and over the course of his books he changed his style from light and humour-filled, to exploring the darker side of human psychology. In wider society he was noted for his cheerfulness, and he had a sharp wit. He was a member of the Crime Writers’ Association, and spoke at many conventions and conferences for writers and their fans. Read more

7 March 2019

Review: THE BLUE EDGE OF MIDNIGHT, Jonathon King

  • this edition published in 2003 by Orion Books
  • ISBN 0-75284-967-0
  • 280 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

Max Freeman's old life ended on a night that will haunt him for ever. The night he killed a twelve year old child in self defence in a Philadelphia shootout. The night he stopped being a cop. Now he lives an existence of solitary confinement on the edge of the Florida Everglades, where he answers to no one but the demons that eat away at his conscience.

And then he finds the corpse of a child beside an ancient river, and Freeman's past explodes into the present. He is thrust into the centre of the search for a serial killer, distrusted as an outsider by the longtime residents of the Glades and considered a suspect by the police. Freeman must walk a tightrope of distrust on both sides of the law. When another child goes missing, all eyes turn to Freeman, and the ex cop, driven by his old habits and the memories of that long ago Philadelphia midnight, knows that he has no choice but to hunt down the murderer himself.

My Take

THE BLUE EDGE OF MIDNIGHT won the Edgar Award for best first novel in 2003.

One of the interesting features of the novel, given that it is published at the beginning of the 21st century, is the use of a GPS tracking device, left as a clue to detectives near the site of each child's body. For me that was a distraction because I am not sure that it worked as the author thought it might. Nor was I sure that the murderer would be able to afford to do that. Surely GPS devices in 2003 were very expensive?

The murderer appears to be trying to pin the series of murders that he is committing of children on to Max Freeman. And therein lies one of the puzzles. Apart from accidentally killing a child himself, what has Max Freeman done to become a target for a serial killer? And then secondly, why is he killing children? The answers are there, and make sense in the end.

A very dark novel painting an interesting picture of life in the Everglades, newly opened up to tourists by the road built from Tampa to Miami.

My rating: 4.4

About the author
Edgar-award winning author Jonathon King is the creator of the Max Freeman crime series set in the Everglades and on the hard streets of urban South Florida. In his previous career as a journalist, he was a police and court reporter for 24 years with the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale and the Philadelphia Daily News. 

2 March 2019

Review: THE NOWHERE CHILD, Christian White

  • this edition an ARC from NetGalley
  • Available from Amazon for Kindle
  • File Size: 1646 KB
  • Print Length: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Affirm Press (June 26, 2018)
  • Publication Date: June 26, 2018
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B07DCPW9GL
Synopsis (Amazon for Kindle)

‘Her name is Sammy Went. This photo was taken on her second birthday. Three days later she was gone.’

On a break between teaching photography classes in Melbourne, Kim Leamy is approached by a stranger investigating the disappearance of a little girl from her Kentucky home twenty-eight years earlier. He believes Kim is that girl.

At first she brushes it off, but when Kim scratches the surface of her family history in Australia, questions arise that aren’t easily answered. To find the truth, she must travel to Sammy’s home of Manson, Kentucky, and into a dark past. As the mystery of Sammy’s disappearance unravels and the town’s secrets are revealed, this superb novel builds towards an electrifying climax.

Inspired by Gillian Flynn’s frenetic suspense and Stephen King’s masterful world-building, The Nowhere Child is a combustible tale of trauma, cult, conspiracy and memory. It is the remarkable debut of Christian White, an exhilarating new Australian talent.

My Take

I've had this book sitting on my Kindle for some months now, courtesy NetGalley, and now it has been chosen by our book group for our monthly read.

Kim Leamy is approached by someone who has been searching for his lost sister for years. He has scanned thousands of online images looking for similarities to an artist's impression of what his sister would look like nearly three decades after her disappearance. But he is American and Kim has a hard job thinking that the woman who brought her up would have been a kidnapper.

However he tells her that a DNA test he has had taken by a Melbourne lab says there is a 98.5% probability that she is is sister. When she approaches her father it is obvious to Kim that there is some truth in what the American is telling her, that her father knows, and she decides to go to America to find out the truth for herself.

A well constructed interesting story, with good mystery elements.

My rating: 4.4

About the author
Christian White is an internationally bestselling and award-winning Australian author and screenwriter. His debut novel, The Nowhere Child, won the 2017 Victorian Premier's Literary Award. He is currently in development with Matchbox Pictures on a new television series which he co-created, inspired by his script One Year Later, winner of the 2013 Australian Writers Guild ‘Think Inside The Box’ competition. His films have been shown at film festivals around the world. He lives in Melbourne with his wife and their greyhound.

1 March 2019

Review: THREE GOLD COINS, Josephine Moon

  • this edition published 2018 by Allen & Unwin
  • ISBN 9-781925-266140
  • source: my local library
  • 381 pages
Synopsis (Allen & Unwin)

One coin for love, one for marriage, one to return to Rome.

Two days ago, Lara Foxleigh tossed three gold euros into the Trevi Fountain. Now, she is caring for a cranky old man and living in a picturesque villa, half a world away from her home and the concerns of her loving family.

Soon, it seems as if those wishes she made in Rome just might be coming true, and she may even be able to help heal a fifteen-year-old tragedy.

Until Lara's past threatens to destroy everything she loves...

Three Gold Coins is a masterfully written celebration of food, family, triumph over adversity, and love - a deliciously imperfect life.

My Take

What? you say. What is going on? Another one that is not crime fiction?

Well, (defensively), there are a few mysteries and puzzles to solve, but this is a lovely story - the library categorises it as "romantic fiction". And there are elements of domestic violence, family ties,  and dealing with psychiatric problems.

Five years after she has given birth to his children Lara Foxleigh goes travelling to Italy to get away from the man who has controlled her life for a number of years. She meets an elderly man Samuel when he throws his wedding ring into the Trevi Fountain and takes him home because his carer has disappeared.

After Samuel breaks his wrist Lara agrees to stay on in his house as his carer and her life becomes very different from the one she has known.

I got a little confused in the beginning as I thought Lara and Dave lived in London, but then I discovered that Lara had come from New South Wales, which made a lot more sense.

Good reading. Sure to appeal to those who enjoy learning about other cultures.

My rating: 4.2

About the author
Josephine Moon's first novel, The Tea Chest (2014), delighted readers with its strong heroine and enchanting story and was a bestseller both in Australia and overseas. Her second novel, The Chocolate Promise (2015), was a love-story with a difference set in luscious Provence and rural Tasmania and was also a bestseller. The Beekeeper's Secret (2016), a story of family and the happiness, guilt and grief that can lie within them, was her third novel.

Three Gold Coins, a captivating novel of families, food, adversity, hope and love, is her fourth novel.

Josephine lives with her husband, son and her horses, dogs, chickens, goats and cats on acreage in Queensland.

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