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.

Pick of the Month February 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 February 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.


26 February 2019

Review: THE KOOKABURRA CREEK CAFE, Sandie Docker

  • source: my local library
  • this edition published by Penguin Random House Australia 2018
  • ISBN 978-0-14378919-2
  • 374 pages
  • Author website
Synopsis ( Author website)

Welcome to the home of second chances. Welcome to the Kookaburra Creek Café.

The Past

For Hattie, the café has been a refuge for the last fifty years – her second chance at a happy ending after her dreams of being a star were shattered. But will the ghosts of her past succeed in destroying everything she’s worked so hard to build?

The Present

For Alice, the café is her livelihood. After Hattie took her in as a teenager, Alice has slowly forged a quiet life as the café’s manager (and chief cupcake baker). But with so many tragedies behind her, is it too late for Alice’s story to have a happy ending?

The Future

For Becca, a teenager in trouble, the café could be the new start she yearns for. That is, if she can be persuaded to stop running from her secrets. Can Becca find a way to believe in the kindness  of strangers, and accept that this small town could be the place where she finally belongs?
one small town. three lost women. and a lifetime of secrets.

One small town. Three lost women. And a lifetime of secrets.

My Take

This is one of those reads that restores your faith in human nature.
Set in a small country town in New South Wales, this contemporary fiction is the tale of three women who have all faced similar problems over a period of years. There is plenty of mystery but this is not crime fiction. Its Australianness is evident in so many ways - a bushfire where lives are lost, a young man in a swimming accident in a dam, a small country town where everyone knows everything about everyone else.

The plot has multi time frames and is carefully and skillfully constructed.

I enjoyed this novel so much I have decided to read the second.  (Unusual behaviour for this crime fiction addict)


My rating: 4.4

About the author

Sandie Docker grew up in Coffs Harbour, and first fell in love with reading when her father introduced her to fantasy books as a teenager. Her love of Women’s Fiction began when she first read Jane Austen for the HSC, but it wasn’t until she was taking a translation course at university that her Mandarin lecturer suggested she might have a knack for writing – a seed of an idea that sat quietly in the back of her mind while she lived overseas and travelled the world. Sandie first decided to put pen to paper (yes, she writes everything the old fashioned way before hitting a keyboard) when living in London. Now back in Sydney with her husband and daughter, she writes every day. Her debut novel, The Kookaburra Creek Café, was released in April 2018, and her second novel, The Cottage At Rosella Cove is due for release Jan 8th, 2019. 

25 February 2019

Review: IN A HOUSE OF LIES, Ian Rankin

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • #22 in the Inspector Rebus series
  • Print Length: 381 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1409176886
  • Publisher: Orion (October 4, 2018)
  • Publication Date: October 4, 2018
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B07B9J3G7K
Synopsis (Amazon)

Everyone has something to hide
A missing private investigator is found, locked in a car hidden deep in the woods. Worse still - both for his family and the police - is that his body was in an area that had already been searched.

Everyone has secrets
Detective Inspector Siobhan Clarke is part of a new inquiry, combing through the mistakes of the original case. There were always suspicions over how the investigation was handled and now - after a decade without answers - it's time for the truth.

Nobody is innocent
Every officer involved must be questioned, and it seems everyone on the case has something to hide, and everything to lose. But there is one man who knows where the trail may lead - and that it could be the end of him: John Rebus.

My take

John Rebus often wishes he was still in the police and now there seems to be the perfect opportunity. A cold case surfaces. Something he was involved in ten years ago, when alcohol and cigarettes played more of a role in his life than they do now.

Siobhan Clarke has emerged from a battle with the Anti-corruption unit, unconvicted. She persuades her boss that Rebus can be used to go over the old case files, when the private investigator was just a missing person, an unsolved case.

So all the old protagonists re-surface: Big Ger Cafferty, Malcolm Fox, Rebus and Clarke. And Rebus know all the secrets from ten years ago, all the sloppiness of the police investigation. In the foreground, in tandem, is the case of a boy who has apparently murdered his girlfriend. But his father is targeting Clarke with nuisance phone calls, wanting attention. And hovering over all a nasty pair in the Complaints Unit, corrupt as they come themselves, a finger in every pie, still trying to destroy Clarke.

A compulsive read.

My rating: 5.0

I've also read
THE COMPLAINTS
DOORS OPEN
HIDE & SEEK
4.4, BEGGARS BANQUET
4.4, WITCH HUNT - writing as Jack Harvey
4.5, THE FALLS
4.7, THE IMPOSSIBLE DEAD
4.8, STANDING IN ANOTHER MAN'S GRAVE
4.7, SAINTS OF THE SHADOW BIBLE
4.5, RATHER BE THE DEVIL

23 February 2019

Review: THE BODY IN THE DALES, J. R. Ellis - audio book

  • format: audio book (Audible.com)
  •  Narrated by: Michael Page
  • Series: Yorkshire Murder Mystery Series, Book 1
  • Length: 9 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • published 2017
  • Release date: 08-09-18
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio
  • aka The Body in Jingling Pot
Synopsis  (Audible.com)

An unpopular victim. An impossible crime. A murderer on the loose.

A body is discovered deep in a cave beneath the Yorkshire Dales. Leading the investigation into the mysterious death are experienced DCI Jim Oldroyd and his partner DS Carter, a newcomer from London.

The deceased is Dave Atkins, well known throughout the village but not well liked. While there is no shortage of suspects, the details of the crime leave Oldroyd and Carter stumped. How did Atkins’s body end up in such a remote section of the cave? When someone with vital information turns up dead, it becomes clear that whoever is behind the murders will stop at nothing to conceal their tracks.

Oldroyd and his team try to uncover the truth, but every answer unearths a new set of questions. And as secrets and lies are exposed within the close-knit community, the mystery becomes deeper, darker and more complex than the caves below.

My Take

This story certainly takes most of us to places we have not been - underground into a cave system.
In reality this is something I would much rather do vicariously. Getting stuck underground would not be my idea of fun. Nevertheless I learnt a lot about caving

The first mystery to be solved is how the body got there? a remote section of a cave that is relatively difficult to get to. Did somebody carry the body there? It doesn't seem that the location was where the murder was committed. And then what was the motive for the murder?

DCI Jim Olroyd is an interesting character, and one can't help thinking of Andy Dalziel, and his treatment of newcomer DS Carter is kindly. I could have done without Carter's phone conversations with his inane London mate, although I suppose they do emphasis how very different life in Yorkshire is.

There were some inconsistencies in the mental picture of the deceased Dave Atkins who is described as both attractive to women, and a difficult person to like, but perhaps the last was from the point of view of cuckolded husbands.

The final solution to the first mystery was similar to my first thoughts on the topic, although the actual motive was harder to guess.

The narrator was set a hard task in this reading in that he attempts to reproduce an incredible number of voices. In the main he manages to make most voices distinctive.

My Rating: 4.3

About the author
John R. Ellis has lived in Yorkshire for most of his life and has spent many years exploring Yorkshire's diverse landscapes, history, language and communities. He recently retired after a career in teaching mostly in further education in the Leeds area. In addition to the Yorkshire Murder Mystery series he writes poetry, ghost stories and biography. He recently completed a screenplay about the last years of the poet Edward Thomas and he is currently working on his memoirs of growing up in a working class area of Huddersfield in the 1950s and 1960s.

17 February 2019

Review: THE PROMISED LAND, Barry Maitland

  • this edition published by Allen & Unwin 2019
  • ISBN 978-1-76063-267-0
  • 308 pages
  • a Brock & Kolla novel
Synopsis (Amazon)

Newly promoted Detective Chief Inspector Kathy Kolla investigates a series of brutal murders on Hampstead Heath. Under intense pressure to find answers, she arrests the unlikely figure of John Pettigrew, a failing London publisher who lives alone on the edge of the Heath.

Pettigrew's lawyer calls on recently retired David Brock for advice, and soon, unable to resist the pull of investigation, the old colleagues, Brock and Kolla, are at loggerheads.

At the heart of the gripping mystery of the Hampstead murders lies a manuscript of an unknown novel by one of the greatest literary figures of the twentieth century. Brock believes that its story will unlock the puzzle, but how?

My take

David Brock has retired and his protege Kathy Kolla has replaced him as DCI. so here is her first case as DCI without her mentor.

In four days, two women have been found murdered on Hampstead Heath, bashed with a hammer. The second is the wife of a judge.  The judge is convinced that he is somehow the target of the murder but there is no evidence of that.

Kathy Kolla believes the two murders are linked somehow. And then a third body is found in the second bedroom of a London publisher but he has no memory of how she got there. Evidence is then found that seems to link him to the two earlier murders.

Meanwhile ex-Inspector Brock is at a loose end, when John Pettigrew's lawyer asks if he will talk with her client. Although Brock is aware that Kathy Kolla is leading the investigation of the Hampstead Heath murders, he doesn't believe she ever need know about this consultancy. And of course he is wrong.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Over the years crime fiction authors have dealt with the problem of ageing detectives, partnerships that must eventually come to an end, and what to do as popular protagonists have to retire.

This novel raises one possible solution.

An excellent read. My best so far this year.

My rating: 5.0

I've also read
4.7, ALL MY ENEMIES  -#3 Brock & Kolla
5.0, NO TRACE - #8
4.7, SPIDER TRAP  - #9
`4.7, DARK MIRROR - #10
4.8, CHELSEA MANSIONS - #11
4.7, THE RAVEN'S EYE -  #12
4.7, CRUCIFIXION CREEK

Review: AS THE CROW FLIES, Damien Boyd

  • this edition published 2015 by Thomas & Mercer (first published 2015)
  • ISBN 978-14778210239
  • 160 pages
  • #1 in the DI Nick Dixon series
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

Rock climbers can't afford to make careless mistakes. But Detective Inspector Nick Dixon's former climbing partner, Jake Fayter, died doing just that. Or so it seems. Dixon suspects foul play, but his only leads are unreliable accounts of something odd happening in Cheddar Gorge seconds before Jake fell.

The more Dixon learns about Jake's life, the more he realises that Jake hadn't been quite the man he remembered...and a lot of people could have wanted him dead. Once Dixon gets too close to the truth, those people will emerge from the shadows and kill to protect their secrets.

As the body count rises, Dixon bends the rules to breaking point to lure out a killer and unravel a conspiracy of silence that will rock the sleepy town of Burnham-on-Sea to its core.

As the Crow Flies is the electrifying first novel in the DI Nick Dixon Crime Series.

My take

In the Prologue we are there when Jake Fayter falls from the Crow climb at Cheddar Gorge. The fall is so uncharacteristic of Jake who is Nick Dixon's former climbing partner that Jake's father John contacts Nick to ensure that the police carry out an investigation into whether this really was an accident.

The book nearly lost me right at the very beginning: the details about climbing felt so very technical that I wondered whether I would persist.

Dixon is newly appointed to the Avon & Somerset police and is currently involved in a case where funeral notices appear to be leading to burglaries. Nevertheless, on a Sunday, when he gets Jake's father's call, he heads over to Cheddar Gorge to see the scene of the accident himself. He decides that, for his own peace of mind, there is something to investigate.

This is one of those novels firmly bedded in the 21st century: FaceBook, Twitter, mobile phones and the tracing of calls etc. I understood most of that but it did add to the technicality of the plot, and wouldn't suit every reader.

There are now 9 titles in the series, and it will be interesting to read another to see what direction the author has taken. Here is the list from Fantastic Fiction.
1. As The Crow Flies (2013)
2. Head In The Sand (2013)
3. Kickback (2014)
4. Swansong (2015)
5. Dead Level (2016)
6. Death Sentence (2016)
7. Heads or Tails (2017)
8. Dead Lock (2018)
9. Beyond the Point (2019)

My rating: 4.2

About the author
Damien Boyd is a solicitor and crime fiction writer.

Drawing on extensive experience of criminal law as well as several years in the Crown Prosecution Service, Damien writes fast paced crime novels featuring Detective Inspector Nick Dixon. 

12 February 2019

Review: THE TURN OF MIDNIGHT, Minette Walters

  • this edition published by Allen & Unwin 2018
  • ISBN 978-1-76029-587-5
  • 448 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (publisher)

As the year 1349 approaches, the Black Death continues its devastating course across England. In Dorseteshire, the quarantined people of Develish question whether they are the only survivors.

Guided by their beloved young mistress, Lady Anne, they wait, knowing that when their dwindling stores are finally gone they will have no choice but to leave. But where will they find safety in the desolate wasteland outside?

One man has the courage to find out.

Thaddeus Thurkell, a free-thinking, educated serf, strikes out in search of supplies and news. A compelling leader, he and his companions quickly throw off the shackles of serfdom and set their minds to ensuring Develish's future - and freedom for its people.

But what use is freedom that cannot be gained lawfully? When Lady Anne and Thaddeus conceive an audacious plan to secure her people's independence, neither foresees the life-threatening struggle over power, money and religion that follows ...

My Take

This is the sequel of  THE LAST HOURS

It is some time since Lady Anne's husband died outside the walls of his estate from the Black Death. Since then no one has been allowed to enter the walls of Develish without a long quarantine period outside the moat and Lady Anne has come to an understanding of how the pestilence has been transmitted.

However the continuing survival of those inside the walls is now putting pressure of remaining food supplies and Thaddeus Thurkell has taken men to explore the neighbouring towns to see how they've fared. In most cases nearly all the population has died and Thurkell is able to take sheep and grain as well as hoards of gold. He deals with the pestilence by burning the houses and the bodies which are often lying in the open, thus eliminating the rats and the fleas that have carried the plague. In only a few places are there survivors, often as few as 10% of the former population. In nearly all places the nobility and their entourage have fled and not been heard from for some time.

As the winter of 1348 comes closer it appears that the Black Death may have moved on.

This is a fascinating exploration of what the priests and others though had brought the Black Death about, and an enthralling story of a couple's vision in re-establishing the social framework of the county.

My rating: 4.7

I've also read
4.6, THE LAST HOURS

10 February 2019

Review: ILLUSION OF DEATH, Brian Kavanagh

Synopsis (publisher)

Power. Envy. Greed. Lies. All surround amateur sleuths Belinda Lawrence and Hazel Whitby in this maze of personalities.

An invitation to a private screening at a film group involves them in more than the cinematic arts.

Murder and the search for a long-lost film, involve them in more hair-raising adventures as they begin to investigate each member of the group, all of whom could be potential murderers.

Belinda’s skills are tested as she faces the greatest danger in her sleuthing life.

My Take

In the previous 5 novels of the series Australian Belinda Lawrence has been overseas, mainly in England. In title #6 author Brian Kavanagh has brought Belinda and her friend Hazel Whitby home to Melbourne.

Belinda visits the ACMI ( Australian Centre for the Moving Image) at Federation Square in Melbourne. She is standing in a display area waiting for Hazel who is out shopping when she is recognised by a former school friend. Bridie invites Belinda and Hazel to join her at a private screening of a pre-digital film being held by a small film society at the suburban home of a retired projectionist. Bridie is teaching film studies at the school that she and Belinda attended, and the film screenings are held weekly. Against Hazel's better judgement Belinda accepts the invitation.
Just as the screening of the film gets underway the group is interrupted by a member who bursts in to announce that the host, "Old Max" has been murdered.

Together with all the others present that night Belinda and Hazel become murder suspects, and they decide to conduct their own investigation of each of the members of the society, to find out why "old Max" was murdered, rather appropriately with a film splicing tool, and who the murderer is.

There is an almost cinematographic quality to the structure of this novel - each of the characters is introduced at the beginning with a sort of spotlight approach, almost as if they are on stage, and the spotlight moves from one to the other, capturing them in a moment of time.

Underlying the plot is a pioneering film/multimedia work produced by the Australian Salvation Army Soldiers of the Cross, and first screened in Melbourne in 1900. The National Film and Sound Archive has elements of the work in their archives but no full film is known to exist.

Very readable.

My rating: 4.2

I've also read

4.2, BLOODY HAM
4.3, A CANTERBURY CRIME
4.3, A WICKED DESIGN
4.3, MURDER ON THE ISLAND

About the author
Brian Kavanagh lives in Melbourne, the capital of the State of Victoria, in Australia. Brian is an an accredited life member of the Australian Film Editors Guild & a member of the Australian Society of Authors. He has many years experience in the Australian Film Industry in areas of production, direction, editing and writing.

His editing credits include THE CHANT OF JIMMIE BLACKSMITH, ODD ANGRY SHOT, THE DEVIL'S PLAYGROUND, LONG WEEKEND, SEX IS A FOUR-LETTER WORD and the recent comedy, DAGS.

He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Australian Screen Editors Guild and is an accredited member. An Australian Film Institute award for Best Editing for FROG DREAMING (USA title THE QUEST).

His first feature film which he produced and directed, A CITY'S CHILD, won an AFI award for actress Monica Maughan and was screened at the London Film Festival as well as Edinburgh, Montreal, Chicago and Adelaide, where it won the Gold Southern Cross Advertiser Award for Best Australian Film.

8 February 2019

Review: WEEPING WATERS, Karin Brynard

format: Kindle (Amazon)
File Size: 1520 KB
Print Length: 512 pages
Publisher: World Noir (April 3, 2018)
Publication Date: April 3, 2018
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English
ASIN: B0788ZTXY9
Text-to-Speech: Enabled

Translated from Afrikaans by Maya Fowler and Isobel Dixon

Synopsis

Inspector Albertus Beeslaar is a traumatized cop who has abandoned tough city policing and a broken relationship in Johannesburg for a backwater post on the edge of the Kalahari Desert. But his dream of rural peace is soon shattered by the repeated attacks of a brutally efficient crime syndicate, as he struggles to train and connect with rookie local cops, Ghaap and Pyl, who resent his brusqueness and his old-school ways.

A beautiful and eccentric artist and her four-year-old adopted daughter are murdered on a local farm, and angry white farmers point to her enigmatic Bushman farm manager as a key suspect. Along with Ghaap and Pyl, Beeslaar is plunged into the intrigue and racial tensions of the community and finds that violence knows no geographical or ethnic boundaries.

Weeping Waters marks the beginning of a great new series with a striking new setting, a strong ensemble cast of characters and suspenseful storylines.

My take

There have been a number of farm killings in the area, over recent times, blamed on stock thieves. Two farm workers had been brutally murdered just a fortnight before, their bodies discovered underneath the carcasses of sheep.

But this killing appeared to be different: a woman and a 4 year old girl, the bedroom chaotic as if someone had been searching for something.

Inspector Beeslaar has failed to find any clues about the stock thieves so far and local whites are asking for the reinstatement of commandos and acting as vigilantes themselves, convinced that they intent is to drive them from their land.

Huilwater Farm is isolated and the murders have been discovered by a neighbour calling in to pass the time of day.

The threads of the story focus on land rights, inheritance, and racial undertones, as well as the pressures on Inspector Beeslaar to "perform".

My rating: 4.6

About the author
Karin Brynard is a former political and investigative journalist and uses her research skills and eye for detail to fascinating effect in Weeping Waters. She is, today, one of Penguin South Africa’s biggest authors.

3 February 2019

Review: QUOTA, Jock Serong - audio book

  • audio book - source my local library
  •  Narrated by: Simon Harvey
  • Length: 7 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 09-01-16
  • Originally published: 28 May 2014
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Wavesound Audio
  • Read it on Google Books
Synopsis (Audible)

Charlie Jardim has just trashed his legal career in a spectacular courtroom meltdown, and his girlfriend has finally left him. So when a colleague slings him a prosecution brief for the remote coastal town of Dauphin, Charlie reluctantly agrees to go.

The case is murder. The victim was involved in illegal abalone trading and even more illegal drug trafficking. And the witnesses aren't talking. As Dauphin closes ranks around him, Charlie finds his interest in the law powerfully reignited.

My Take

HIS HONOUR: Mr Jardim, withdraw that comment immediately.

MR JARDIM: Your Honour, I'm not withdrawing it because it's got nothing to do with the merits of this case, just as your small-minded treatment of my client has got nothing to do with the merits of the case. I mean, could you have cocked this thing up any worse? Bloody helpless kid and you know she's back out on the street now. You're known throughout the state as a heartless old prick and a drunk, and seeing I've gone this far, your daughter-in-law's appointment to the court is widely viewed as a grubby political payoff. Today's pretty much the lowest I've seen you stoop but it's been a rich field of excrem—

HIS HONOUR: Senior, will you have Mr Jardim removed?


QUOTA takes an unusual case, the murder of an abalone fisherman who is also dabbling in drug distribution.

Charlie Jardim is trying to put together a case to prosecute the victim's murderers. The account given of events by the victim's brother just does not hang together so Jardim travels to a small seaside Victorian town to see if he can get people to talk.

On the way to Dauphin he hits a kangaroo and wrecks his car. He is easily identified as a city man, and outsider, and before long every knows the Prosecutor is in town. Only the pub owner will talk to him.

Eventually he befriends the victim's brother and gets a different version of what occurred, and more importantly, gets him to agree to replace the original statement that the police have on record. But this is just the start of the plot.

There is a strong Australian flavour to this recording reinforced both by the language particularly the dialogue, but also by the narrator's voice. There are superb descriptions of the Victorian countryside, of the heat, of the declining nature of the town, of the way things are ruled by one family, and the way others have to take drastic measures to survive.

My rating: 4.6

I've also reviewed
5.0, THE RULES OF BACKYARD CRICKET
5.0, ON THE JAVA RIDGE
4.8, PRESERVATION

QUOTA is Serong's first novel and didn't get the same attention and recognition that his later novels have. I think taht is possibly because his voice is so different to other Australian crime fiction writers.
He was a practising lawyer when he published QUOTA

1 February 2019

Review: THE THIN BLUE LINE, Christoffer Carlsson

  • this edition published by Scribe Publications 2018
  • translated from Swedish by Michael Gallager
  • series: Leo Junker #4
  • ISBN 978-1-925322-89-7
  • 328 pages
  • source: publisher
  • 2017 Best Crime Novel of the Year Award (Swedish Crime Writers’ Academy) - Short-listed
Synopsis

Detective Leo Junker thought he’d crossed his last line. But he’s never learned to say no.

So when an escaped criminal he knows all too well hands him a photo of a murdered prostitute, he reopens the cold case as a favour. Everyone’s busy and everyone’s got better things to do, but is there a darker reason that Angelica Reyes’ death has languished unsolved for five years? As Leo’s investigation pushes further into the past — Sweden’s, Angelica’s, his own — he’ll come face to face with the corruption at the heart of things.

Yet the reckoning may come too late — not only for Angelica Reyes, but for everyone.

My Take

At times I floundered a bit in putting the plot of this novel together -  mainly I think because I have not read the three earlier novels in the series and so am missing a bit of background information. Perhaps also too because I am not Swedish.

Detectives Leo Junker and Gabriel Birck are on overnight surveillance in Stockholm watching the comings and goings at a particular address, taking photographs and videos. Stockholm Police have been restructuring for a year, attempting to weed out corruption, and to streamline services.

Junker receives a letter in the post which contains a photo that he recognises - a prostitute who was murdered nearly 5 years before. On the back a phone number and the words "help me". The person who has contacted him is a friend from his adolescence and years ago they rescued this girl, saving her life. As a result of meeting with Grim, who is actually an escaped criminal, Leo gets permission to re-open the case into the girl's murder, for one last look at the evidence. It is the typical can of worms, involving corruption at the highest level.

My rating: 4.4

I've also read
4.4, OCTOBER IS THE COLDEST MONTH

About the author
Christoffer Carlsson has a PhD in criminology, and is a university lecturer in the subject. He has written five crime novels, including the bestselling The Invisible Man from Salem and the Young Adult noir October is the Coldest Month.
In 2012, he was awarded the International European Society of Criminology's Young Criminologist Award. 

Series
Leo Junker
1. The Invisible Man From Salem (2015)
2. The Falling Detective (2016)
3. Master, Liar, Traitor, Friend (2017)
4. The Thin Blue Line (2018)

Pick of the Month January 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 January 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.


28 January 2019

Review: THE DARKEST PLACE, Jo Spain

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 711 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus (September 20, 2018)
  • Publication Date: September 20, 2018
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B076ZSC6LD
  • #4 in DCI Tom Reynolds series
Synopsis (Amazon)

Christmas day, and DCI Tom Reynolds receives an alarming call. A mass grave has been discovered on Oileán na Caillte, the island which housed the controversial psychiatric institution St. Christina's. The hospital has been closed for decades and onsite graves were tragically common. Reynolds thinks his adversarial boss is handing him a cold case to sideline him.

But then it transpires another body has been discovered amongst the dead - one of the doctors who went missing from the hospital in mysterious circumstances forty years ago. He appears to have been brutally murdered.

As events take a sudden turn, nothing can prepare Reynolds and his team for what they are about to discover once they arrive on the island . . .

My Take

The mass grave on the island off the coast of County Kerry accommodates 60 bodies going back decades, The site is to be cleared for a new hotel complex but work stops so that the bodies can be lifted and re-located. All of the bodies have been put into body bags and tagged with names etc. But one does not belong. It has been wrapped in plastic and hidden under the top layer in the mass grave.  And it has probably been there for 40 years when a promising young doctor disappeared.

That he is called about the case on Christmas Day and expected to go to the site almost immediately is a measure of the malevolence that DCI Reynolds' Superintendent has for him, and typical of how he has been treated for the past 6 months.

There is pressure from the Chief Commissioner for this cold case to be treated with priority because of familial links with the wife of the missing man. The wife gives Reynolds a diary she thinks the missing man left at home when he was last there forty years ago. For forty years she has held on to the hope that he will turn up. It makes for horrific reading.

There is some interesting discussion of how treatments of insanity and depression have changed over the last 40 years - provided by a clinical psychiatrist that Reynolds takes as part of his small team.

A very engrossing read.

This is the first novel that I have read by this author and I didn't feel my reading was at all impaired by not knowing the content of the previous three titles in the series. Although there were some references to earlier cases.

My rating: 4.7

About the author
Jo Spain is vice-chair of business body InterTrade Ireland and a parliamentary assistant in Leinster House. Her first novel With our Blessing is published by Quercus, London and was one of seven books shortlisted in the Richard and Judy search for a bestseller competition 2014. The book is based on the investigations of a Dublin-based detective team led by Tom Reynolds. It was launched in Ireland in September 2015 and became a top-ten bestseller that month. It will be launched in Britain in 2016 and the rights have been snapped up in Germany. She has received rave reviews from Martin Sixsmith (author of Philomena) and Sinead Crowley (Can anybody help me?) as well as in leading media and blogs.  Jo lives in Dublin with her husband and their four young children.

Series (Fantastic Fiction)
Inspector Tom Reynolds Mystery
1. With Our Blessing (2015)
2. Beneath the Surface (2016)
3. Sleeping Beauties (2017)
4. The Darkest Place (2018)
5. The Boy Who Fell (2019)

Review: COLD BLOOD, Robert Bryndza

  • this edition published 2017 by Bookouture
  • ISBN 978-1-78681-149-3
  • 351 pages
  • #5 in the Erika Foster series
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

She fell in love with a killer, now she's one too.

The suitcase was badly rusted, and took Erika several attempts, but it yielded and sagged open as she unzipped it. Nothing could prepare her for what she would find inside....

When a battered suitcase containing the dismembered body of a young man washes up on the shore of the river Thames, Detective Erika Foster is shocked. She's worked on some terrifying cases but never seen anything like this before.

As Erika and her team set to work, she makes the link with another victim - the body of a young woman dumped in an identical suitcase two weeks ago.

Erika quickly realizes she's on the trail of a serial killer who's already made their next move. Yet just as Erika starts to make headway with the investigation, she is the victim of a brutal attack.

But nothing will stop Erika. As the body count rises, the twin daughters of her colleague Commander Marsh are abducted, and the stakes are higher than ever before. Can Erika save the lives of two innocent children before it's too late? She's running out of time and about to make a disturbing discovery...there's more than one killer.

Brilliantly gripping, Cold Blood will have you hooked from the beginning and holding your breath to the heart-stopping and shocking ending.

My Take

A young girl wants so badly to be accepted by her older boyfriend that she agrees to do whatever he asks, even to agree to covering up a killing which she witnessed.

Yet another gruesome tale from Robert Bryndza which is at the same time compelling reading, an exploration of forces that lead to murder.

The story hops between two time frames, keeping readers on their toes, and includes a period when Detective Erika Foster is rather predictably suspended for insubordination. But Erika doesn't let that stop her from continuing her investigation.

My rating: 4.7

I've also read
4.8, THE GIRL IN THE ICE #1
4.8, THE NIGHT STALKER #2
4.6, DARK WATER #3
4.8, LAST BREATH #4

26 January 2019

Australia Day - Australian Children's authors honoured


Australia Post has added 5 popular children's authors to its Australian Legends series.
The 2019 legends – Mem Fox AM, Morris Gleitzman, Leigh Hobbs, Alison Lester and Shaun Tan – ­will each have their portrait featured on new postage stamps which forms part of the 2019 Australian Legends of Children’s Literature stamp issue.

Now in its 23rd year, the Australia Post Legends Award celebrates living Australians who have made a unique contribution to the nation through their field of endeavour, inspiring the community and influencing the way Australians think about themselves and the community.

Past recipients include Sir Donald Bradman, Dame Joan Sutherland, Barry Humphries, Sir Gustav Nossal, Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, Cate Blanchett, Stephanie Alexander, Rod Laver and Bert Newton. A complete list of recipients can be found at www.auspost.com.au.

2010 Australian Legends of the Written Word
Peter Carey AO
Bryce Courtenay AM
Thomas Keneally AO
David Malouf
Colleen McCullough AO
Tim Winton

25 January 2019

Review: THE STRANGER DIARIES, Elly Griffiths

  • this edition published by Quercus 2018
  • ISBN 978-1-78648-740-7
  • 408 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (publisher)

THE TIMES CRIME BOOK OF THE YEAR

THE RADIO 2 BOOK CLUB PICK

A dark story has been brought to terrifying life. Can the ending be rewritten in time?

Clare Cassidy is no stranger to tales of murder. As a literature teacher specialising in the Gothic writer R.M. Holland, she teaches a short course on them every year. Then Clare’s life and work collide tragically when one of her colleagues is found dead, a line from an R.M. Holland story by her body. The investigating police detective is convinced the writer’s works somehow hold the key to the case.

Not knowing who to trust, and afraid that the killer is someone she knows, Clare confides her darkest suspicions and fears about the case to her journal. Then one day she notices some other writing in the diary. Writing that isn’t hers…

My Take

The narration in this story is from several different voices:
Clare Cassidy herself;
Harbinder, a former student at the school and is the detective sergeant carrying out the investigation into the death of Clare's friend and colleague Ella;
Georgia (Georgie), Clare's daughter and a student at the school;
The short story The Stranger written decades before by R.M. Holland in whose house the school is established;
Excerpts from the story are featured throughout the main story and the narrators change often.

This is a story about obsession. The murder victims appear to be linked by the fact they are teachers in the English faculty at the school.

This I think is the first stand-alone that I have read by Elly Griffiths who in 2016 was the recipient of the CWA Dagger in the Library for services to crime fiction.

Very readable.

My rating: 4.6

I've also read

4.6, THE CROSSING PLACES
4.6, THE JANUS STONE
4.6, THE HOUSE AT SEA'S END
4.5, A ROOM FULL OF BONES
4.8, DYING FALL- audio book
4.5, THE GHOST FIELDS - audio book
4.7, THE OUTCAST DEAD - audio book
4.7, THE WOMAN IN BLUE
4.7, THE CHALK PIT
4.4, THE VANISHING BOX

20 January 2019

Review: LETHAL WHITE, Robert Galbraith

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 1480 KB
  • Print Length: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Sphere (September 18, 2018)
  • Publication Date: September 18, 2018
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B07FD8PFJM
  • #4 in the Cormoran Strike series
Synopsis (Amazon)

When Billy, a troubled young man, comes to private eye Cormoran Strike's office to ask for his help investigating a crime he thinks he witnessed as a child, Strike is left deeply unsettled. While Billy is obviously mentally distressed, and cannot remember many concrete details, there is something sincere about him and his story. But before Strike can question him further, Billy bolts from his office in a panic.

Trying to get to the bottom of Billy's story, Strike and Robin Ellacott - once his assistant, now a partner in the agency - set off on a twisting trail that leads them through the backstreets of London, into a secretive inner sanctum within Parliament, and to a beautiful but sinister manor house deep in the countryside.

And during this labyrinthine investigation, Strike's own life is far from straightforward: his newfound fame as a private eye means he can no longer operate behind the scenes as he once did. Plus, his relationship with his former assistant is more fraught than it ever has been - Robin is now invaluable to Strike in the business, but their personal relationship is much, much more tricky than that . . .

The most epic Robert Galbraith novel yet, LETHAL WHITE is both a gripping mystery and a page-turning next instalment in the ongoing story of Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott.

My Take

Cormoran Strike is approached by a Cabinet Minister who says he is being blackmailed, whose wife says there are trespassers in the woods on their property. And then Billy turns up saying he has witnessed a murder. Coincidentally Billy's father used to work for the Cabinet Minister.

The Cabinet Minister believes that the blackmail threat is coming from another Cabinet Minister's office so Robin, Strike's colleague, is installed in the Parliamentary office undercover.

That is just the beginning of the first theme of the story. The book is quite large, with complex intertwining themes, a large number of characters and incidents to keep track of.

But it was so well written that it just kept me reading. There is considerable development in the personal background for both Strike and Robin. The action takes place over a period of over a year.

I look forward to the next in the series.

My rating: 4.7

I've also read
5.0, THE CUCKOO'S CALLING #1 
4.5, THE SILKWORM  #2
4.6, A CAREER OF EVIL  #3

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