12 November 2019

Review: THE WOMAN NEXT DOOR, Liz Byrski

  • this edition published in 2016 by Pan Macmillan (Read How you Want)
  • ISBN 978-1-52522-793-6
  • 530 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (author website)

Over the years, the residents of Emerald Street have become more than just neighbours, they have built lasting friendships over a drink and chat on their back verandahs.

Now a new chapter begins with the children having left home. Helen and Dennis have moved from their high maintenance family property to an apartment by the river with all the mod cons. For Joyce and Mac, the empty nest has Joyce craving a new challenge, while Mac fancies retirement on the south coast.

Meanwhile Polly embarks on a surprising long-distance relationship. But she worries about her friend next door. Stella’s erratic behaviour is starting to resemble something much more serious than endearing eccentricity…

My Take

First of all, blog follower, let me point out that this is not crime fiction.

It is in fact the second novel I've read by this remarkable writer who just seems to hit the spot for me. So many of the scenarios that she uses in this novel resonate with me.

I think when I was young, the people that I knew in their 60s and 70s all seemed at the end of their lives. I never thought of them as embarking on the next stage of life. They had had hard lives, compared with us, and I don't suppose many of them had so many years to go. Things are different now.

Our street, indeed our suburb, is going through something similar to what happens in Emerald Street. People are moving out, houses are being demolished, blocks sub-divided, apartments being built. Those of us left are well into retirement and things have changed for good, and not necessarily for the better.

This is a well constructed, well written book. To use the words of one of the characters, the scenarios feel very "authentic."

I have enjoyed it very much.

My rating: 5.0

I've also read

9 November 2019

What I read in October 2019

A number of good reads without any being outstanding
October 2019

See what others have read this month.

Review: SILVER, Chris Hammer

  • format: kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 1958 KB
  • Print Length: 444 pages
  • Publisher: Allen & Unwin (October 1, 2019)
  • Publication Date: October 1, 2019
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
Synopsis (Amazon)

For half a lifetime, journalist Martin Scarsden has run from his past. But now there is no escaping.

He'd vowed never to return to his hometown, Port Silver, and its traumatic memories. But now his new partner, Mandy Blonde, has inherited an old house in the seaside town and Martin knows their chance of a new life together won't come again.

Martin arrives to find his best friend from school days has been brutally murdered, and Mandy is the chief suspect. With the police curiously reluctant to pursue other suspects, Martin goes searching for the killer. And finds the past waiting for him.

He's making little progress when a terrible new crime starts to reveal the truth. The media descend on Port Silver, attracted by a story that has it all: sex, drugs, celebrity and religion. Once again, Martin finds himself in the front line of reporting.

Yet the demands of deadlines and his desire to clear Mandy are not enough: the past is ever present.

My Take

Set in a fictional seaside town on the New South Wales northern coast, this novel seems to have a bit of everything. An undeveloped coastal retreat with a number of people with big ideas on how to make money, a swami taking advantage of the secludedness, others who enjoy the backwater nature of their home town. It starts with a murder and then follows with something even worse.

The plot has a number of complex threads and the book is definitely a sequel to the first Martin Scarsden novel, SCRUBLANDS for which the author recently won a CWA Dagger. However I felt my reading of SILVER was hampered by the fact that I seem to have forgotten some of the lesser threads of SCRUBLANDS. So, if you are wondering if you can read SILVER as a stand-alone, then the answer is probably no.

But Chris Hammer is obviously a writer to follow. The setting has a strong Australian flavour, and the main character Martin Scarsden is nicely flawed.

And will there be a sequel to SILVER? I'm not sure, unless Martin Scarsden becomes involved in an entirely new case. In this novel we learnt a lot about his past, his relationship with Mandy Blonde definitely went through some rocky times, so where now?

My rating: 4.4

I've also read

2 November 2019

Pick of the Month - October 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 October 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 -
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.

31 October 2019

Review: THE CHILD'S CHILD, Barbara Vine

  • this edition published by Scribner 2012
  • ISBN 978-1-4516-9489-5
  • 302 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Amazon)

From three-time Edgar Award–winning mystery writer Ruth Rendell, writing here under her Barbara Vine pseudonym, an ingenious novel-within-a-novel about brothers and sisters and the violence lurking behind our society’s taboos.

When their grandmother dies, Grace and Andrew Easton inherit her sprawling, book-filled London home, Dinmont House. Rather than sell it, the adult siblings move in together, splitting the numerous bedrooms and studies. The arrangement is unusual, but ideal for the affectionate pair—until the day Andrew brings home a new boyfriend. A devilishly handsome novelist, James Derain resembles Cary Grant, but his strident comments about Grace’s doctoral thesis soon puncture the house’s idyllic atmosphere. When he and Andrew witness their friend’s murder outside a London nightclub, James begins to unravel, and what happens next will change the lives of everyone in the house. Just as turmoil sets in at Dinmont House, Grace escapes into reading a manuscript—a long-lost novel from 1951 called The Child’s Child—never published because of its frank depictions of an unwed mother and a homosexual relationship. The book is the story of two siblings born a few years after World War One. This brother and sister, John and Maud, mirror the present-day Andrew and Grace: a homosexual brother and a sister carrying an illegitimate child. Acts of violence and sex will reverberate through their stories.

The Child’s Child is an enormously clever, brilliantly constructed novel-within-a-novel about family, betrayal, and disgrace. A master of psychological suspense, Ruth Rendell, in her newest work under the pseudonym Barbara Vine, takes us where violence and social taboos collide. She shows how society’s treatment of those it once considered undesirable has changed—and how sometimes it hasn’t.

My take

Two fairly parallel stories, history repeating itself. Also a novel about how social conventions have changed over a century. For example our attitudes to homosexuality have changed, as they have to unmarried mothers. There is a suggestion made that the attitudes changed around the same time.

The structure is a book within a book, a challenge for any author. We begin in the modern day and are then transported to a plot within the plot. In my opinion the "inner book", the manuscript that Grace is reading, is just a bit long, and almost turns into a family saga. But just in time we emerge back into the modern day.

Is it crime fiction? Well yes, there is a murder: the culprit is brought to trial and executed. But, by the laws of the day, there are other crimes for which penalties are not applied.

It wasn't my favourite Barbara Vine book, and I don't seem to have found it as fascinating as other reviewers but it is certainly clever.

My rating: 4.3

I've also read

26 October 2019

Review: LAST SEEN WEARING, Colin Dexter - audio book

  • audio book from audible.com
  • Narrated by: Samuel West
  • Series: Inspector Morse Mysteries, Book 2
  • Length: 8 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 10-05-17
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Macmillan Digital Audio
  • originally published 1976
Synopsis (audible)

Morse was beset by a nagging feeling. Most of his fanciful notions about the Taylor girl had evaporated, and he had begun to suspect that further investigation into Valerie's disappearance would involve little more than sober and tedious routine....

The statements before Inspector Morse appeared to confirm the bald, simple truth.

After leaving home to return to school, teenager Valerie Taylor had completely vanished, and the trail had gone cold.

Until two years, three months and two days after Valerie's disappearance, somebody decides to supply some surprising new evidence for the case....

My Take

I read most of the Morse novels over 30 years ago and then followed them up by watching the Morse TV series. I really hadn't realised, until I listened to this particular book, the extent of differences between the original books and what was done for television.

I got a little confused towards the end (or did I momentarily drop off to sleep?) with the result that I had to listen to the last hour again to be sure that I knew the way it all finished up.

LAST SEEN WEARING is #2 in the series and is full of red herrings and false threads. Morse leaps from one idea to another, often operating on a few dodgy facts, and drawing some shaky conclusions from them. He becomes very despondent after one theory after another bites the dust, but in the end he does get it right. It is a very wasteful way of doing detective work, and there is not much logic to it. All of this does make reading the novel a very academic exercise, and I guess that's what sets Colin Dexter apart from the rest.

But don't go away thinking that this Morse is the one you've seen John Thaw play.
He is a much coarser person, but I think by the time we get to later in the series some of these cruder bits have been toned down.

If you want to follow up on the differences between Morse's character in the books and in the TV series, you might like check here.

My rating: 4.4

I've also read
4.3, INSPECTOR MORSE: BBB Radio Collection
4.5, THE SECRET OF ANNEXE THREE -audio book -#7
4.6, THE WENCH IS DEAD, Colin Dexter - audio book - #8
4.3, SERVICE OF ALL THE DEAD, Colin Dexter - audio book  - #4

The books in publication order
1. Last Bus to Woodstock (1975)
2. Last Seen Wearing (1976)
3. The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn (1977)
4. Service of All the Dead (1979)
5. The Dead of Jericho (1981)
6. The Riddle of the Third Mile (1983)
7. The Secret of Annexe 3 (1986)
8. The Wench Is Dead (1989)
9. The Jewel That Was Ours (1991)
10. The Way Through the Woods (1992)
11. The Daughters of Cain (1994)
12. Death Is Now My Neighbour (1996)
13. The Remorseful Day (1999)

23 October 2019

I've reached 100! - books that is

It always gives me a little boost when I finish my 100th book for the year!

My target this year is 120 and I think I will make that easily, but not perhaps some of my individual reading challenges.

Check out my reading this year here.

  • 2019 Good Reads Reading Challenge.
       I have set my challenge at 120. Currently: 100
  • Good Reads A-Z of titles: Currently: 20
  • Agatha Christie Reading Challenge
        Completed in 2014, titles read in 2019: 1
  • USA Fiction Challenge
        So far 21/51, this year: 13
  • 2019 Aussie Author Reading Challenge: aiming for 20: currently 23
  • 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge: aiming for 20. Currently 10
  • British Books Challenge 2019 currently  57
  • 2018 Ebook Reading Challenge currently 17
  • New to me authors - a personal challenge currently  38
  • Not crime fiction - a personal challenge currently 10
  • Nordic reading challenge - a personal challenge, currently 1
  • New Zealand reading challenge -again a personal challenge. currently 2
  • Translated crime fiction - a personal challenge that will overlap with many of the other reading challenges that I have undertaken. currently 21
  • Snagged at the Library currently: 67
  • Audio books: currently: 12
  • 2019 Historical Reading Challenge. Currently: 17
  • 21 October 2019

    Review: A MONTH OF SUNDAYS, Liz Byrski

    • this edition published by Pan Macmillan Australia 2018
    • ISBN 978-1-74353-494-6
    • 343 pages
    • source: my local library
    Synopsis (author website)

    For over ten years, Ros, Adele, Judy and Simone have been in an online book club, but they have never met face to face. Until now…

    Determined to enjoy her imminent retirement, Adele invites her fellow bibliophiles to help her house-sit in the Blue Mountains. It’s a tantalising opportunity to spend a month walking in the fresh air, napping by the fire and, of course, reading and talking about books.

    But these aren’t just any books: each member has been asked to choose a book which will teach the others more about her. And with each woman facing a crossroads in her life, it turns out there’s a lot for them to learn, not just about their fellow book-clubbers, but also about themselves.

    A Month of Sundays reminds us of the joy, the comfort and the occasional challenge we can find in the pages of a book.

    My take

    Please note: another book that isn't crime fiction!
    And one that I really enjoyed.

    Each of the women in the online book group is facing some sort of crisis. Three of them are retired, but they all jump at the chance to meet up and discuss books after over 10 years online. They have met before only through Skype and so they don't really know each other.

    I loved the way we got to learn about each of these women as well as share in their book discussions.
    Their discussions, by the way, were very different to what happens at the books clubs I attend, where we take a rather cursory look at the book and then move quickly on.

    For those who'd like to explore this book further the author has kindly provided starting points on her website.

    This book came highly recommended and I certainly intend to read another by Liz Byrski.

    My rating: 4.5

    About the author
    Liz Byrski is a writer and broadcaster with more than 50 years experience in the British and Australian media. She is the author of thirteen non-fiction books and ten novels, and her work has been published in national and international newspapers and magazines.

    In the nineties Liz was a broadcaster and executive producer with ABC Radio in Perth and later an advisor to a minister in the Western Australian State Government; she has a PhD on the subject of feminist popular fiction, and is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Humanities at Curtin University.

    Liz was born in London and spent most of her childhood in Sussex. As an only child she spent a lot of time alone, much of it buried in books. She began her working life at 16, as a secretary, and later moved into journalism working as a reporter on a local newspaper, until she took up freelance writing when her children were born.

    Liz emigrated to Australia with her family in 1981 and worked as a freelance journalist/writer in Perth writing for a variety of publications including The Australian, New Idea, Homes and Living, Cosmopolitan, the Australian Financial Review, The Woman Writer, and The West Australian.  For several years she was a broadcaster with ABC Radio 720 6WF, where she was best known for hosting The Grapevine program with Peter Holland.

    Liz lives between Perth and Fremantle and in addition to enjoying the company of family and friends, she spends most of her free time reading, writing and walking.   She has two adult sons and twin grandsons.

    20 October 2019

    Review: RUIN BEACH, Kate Rhodes

    • this edition published by Simon & Schuster 2018
    • ISBN 978-1-4711-6544-3
    • 399 pages
    • source: my local library
    Synopsis (publisher)


    Ben Kitto has become the Scilly Isles’ Deputy Chief of Police. As the island’s lazy summer takes hold, he finds himself missing the excitement of the murder squad in London. But when the body of professional diver Jude Trellon is discovered, anchored to the rocks of a nearby cave, his investigative skills are once again needed.

    At first it appears that the young woman’s death was a tragic accident, but when evidence is found that suggests otherwise, the islanders close ranks. With even those closest to the victim refusing to talk, it seems that plenty of people might have had reason to harm her. As the islanders remain guarded, Ben Kitto suspects a killer is on the loose in Tresco.

    Everyone is a suspect.
    Nobody is safe

    My take

    Ben Kitto's boss tries to keep him on a tight rein, constantly harping at him to tidy himself up, to look more professional. 

    When the body of Jude Trellon is discovered the timeline becomes tight. No-one is to leave the island until the murderer is found. But that is almost impossible to enforce.  There are several suspects, mostly locals, and Ben comes to believe that Jude had found something that the murderer wants. The murderer is leaving crazy clues, scraps of verse from sea shanties, and then a young lad who dived with Jude disappears.

    This was very readable, plenty of red herrings, and the identity of the murderer is a puzzle for most of the book.

    I'll be looking for another from this author.

    My rating: 4.5

    About the author
    Kate Rhodes is an acclaimed crime novelist and an award-winning poet. She lives in Cambridge with her husband, the writer and film-maker, Dave Pescod. She visited the Scilly Isles every year as a child which gave her the idea for this new series. She is one of the founders of the Killer Women writing group.

    17 October 2019

    Review: SHE LIES IN WAIT, Gytha Lodge

    • this edition published by Penguin 2019
    • ISBN 978-0-241-36298-3
    • 391 pages
    • source: my local library
    Synopsis (back cover)

    On a hot July night in 1983, six school friends go camping in the forest,. Bright and brilliant, they are destined for great things, and young Aurora Jackson is dazzled to be allowed along with her older sister.

    She never makes it home.

    Thirty years later a body is discovered. DCI Sheens is called to the scene, but he already knows what's waiting for him: Aurora Jackson, found at last.

    But that's not all. The friends have all maintained their innocence, but the body is found in a hideaway only the six of them knew about.

    It seems the killer may have always lurked very close to home.

    My Take

    This is a variant on a cold case police procedural. To be accurate, there hasn't been a body in the cold case, but the assumption has always been that Aurora Jackson was, just not found.

    Just a police constable when Aurora disappeared Jonah Sheens knew her by sight and was friendly with some of the older members of the group.

    The investigation involves going through the evidence collected and statements taken 30 years earlier and then re-interviewing all the people involved, and looking for things that had not been investigated thoroughly.

    Sheens eventually decides that one of the six has to be the murderer, and not only that, he or she is manipulating what the others are saying now. All the group have done well: a university professor and a parliamentarian among them, and there are things they would rather not become general knowledge. But eventually someone outside the group half guesses the truth.

    My rating: 4.4

    About the author
    Gytha Lodge is a writer and multi-award-winning playwright who lives in Cambridge. After studying creative writing at UEA, she was shortlisted for the Yeovil Literary Prize and the Arts' Council England fiction awards, and developed a very large online following for her young adult and children's writing, with over five million reads accrued on platform Wattpad. She Lies in Wait is her debut novel.

    13 October 2019

    Review: THE NEIGHBOUR, Fiona Cummins

    • This edition published by Pan Macmillan Australia 2019
    • ISBN 978-1509876891
    • 403 pages
    • source: my local library

    Synopsis (Publisher)

    FOR SALE: A lovely family home with good-sized garden and treehouse occupying a plot close to woodland. Quiet, leafy road, good schools, close to the sea and commutable to London. Perfect for kids, fitness enthusiasts, dog walkers . . .

    And, it seems, the perfect hunting ground for a serial killer.

    On a hot July day, Garrick and Olivia Lockwood and their two children move into 25 The Avenue looking for a fresh start. They arrive in the midst of a media frenzy: they’d heard about the local murders in the press, but Garrick was certain the killer would be caught and it would all be over in no time. Besides, they’d got the house at a steal and he was convinced he could flip it for a fortune.

    The neighbours seemed to be the very picture of community spirit. But everyone has secrets, and the residents in The Avenue are no exception.

    After six months on the case with no real leads, the most recent murder has turned DC Wildeve Stanton’s life upside down, and now she has her own motive for hunting down the killer – quickly.

    The Neighbour is a thrilling standalone novel by the author of Rattle, Fiona Cummins.

    My take

    We all do it. I opened the book to find a map of a road called The Avenue. I thought "interesting.. but I'll never use that." Well, you guessed it. I referred to it constantly, checking the location of houses etc.

    The Lockwood family moved into their new house to find that the police are removing a body from the woods behind their garden. It is the body of a young policeman who has been investigating some serial murders. He is the fifth victim, and nobody has any clue about why he was killed. As with the earlier victims the actual cause of death is difficult to identify.

    The narration of the story is mainly from the point of view of the detective's wife who is also part of the investigating team, but a large portion comes from the murderer, whose identity and location is unknown.  The reader knows that this person lives somewhere in The Avenue.

    This novel was carefully constructed to ensure that we are almost clue-less until the very end, and even then part of the identification comes as a real shock. There are several very effective red herrings.

    My rating: 4.7

    About the author
    Fiona Cummins is an award-winning former Daily Mirror showbusiness journalist and a graduate of the Faber Academy Writing A Novel course. She lives in Essex with her family. The Neighbour is her third novel, following Rattle and The Collector.

    8 October 2019

    Review: THE AUTUMN MURDERS, Robert Gott

    • this edition published by Scribe Publications 2019
    • ISBN 978-1-925713-46-6
    • 263 pages
    • source: review copy from publisher
    Synopsis (Scribe Publications)

    The series that began with The Holiday Murders and The Port Fairy Murders now continues with The Autumn Murders …

    In the autumn of 1944, George Starling prepares to exact revenge on the person he hates most in the world (and Starling has a long list of people he hates), Detective Joe Sable of the Melbourne Homicide division. Driven by his dark passion for Nazism, Starling is going to make sure that nothing and no one will stand in his way and survive.

    Homicide is in turmoil. Riven by internal divisions and disrupted by the war, it has become a dangerous place for Joe to work. Constable Helen Lord, suspended from her position in Homicide, and battling grief, is also in Starling’s sights. Knowing that Inspector Titus Lambert can’t protect them from Starling’s ruthless aim, Helen and Joe decide to set their own trap. But when the trap is sprung, who will be caught in it?

    The Autumn Murders is a stylish, historical whodunit, written with wit and insight into the dark corners where the worst of us hides.

    My take

    This is the third book in a series, and I had read only the second.

    The setting is Melbourne 1944. Detective Joe Sable of the Melbourne Homicide division is a Jew and has already paid a penalty for that status in a severe beating at the hands of George Starling and an arson attack on his flat. News of how Hitler is treating Jews in Europe is filtering into Australia but the average citizen finds it very hard to believe.

    Although there is a shortage of good detectives there is little belief that women can make good police officers or detectives and already Constable Helen Lord has been suspended from Homicide. Most of the men staffing Homicide are hardly the cream of the crop although Inspector Titus Lambert is a good policeman and a good administrator.

    Recognising talent in Joe Sable, Lambert has promoted him to Sergeant causing resentment among other detectives.

    And now a prominent Melbourne business man, Peter Lillee is dead, apparently murdered.

    For those who haven't read the earlier two books in the series, the author has provided helpful plot summaries to bring you up to scratch. Be sure to read them.

    I thought this book took a little while to get going but then I thoroughly enjoyed it. It brought home to me many effects of the war on Australian society.

    My rating: 4.5

    I've also read

    6 October 2019

    Review: THE BLACK ASCOT, Charles Todd

    • this edition published William Morrow 2019
    • ISBN 978-0-06-267874-4
    • 342 pages
    • source: my local library
    • #21 in the Inspector Rutledge series
    Synopsis (author website)

    Scotland Yard’s Ian Rutledge seeks a killer who has eluded Scotland Yard for years.

    An astonishing tip from a grateful ex-convict seems implausible—but Inspector Ian Rutledge is intrigued and brings it to his superior at Scotland Yard. Alan Barrington, who has evaded capture for ten years, is the suspect in an appalling murder during Black Ascot, the famous 1910 royal horserace honoring the late King Edward VII. His disappearance began a manhunt that consumed Britain for a decade. Now it appears that Barrington has returned to England, giving the Yard a last chance to retrieve its reputation and see justice done. Rutledge is put in charge of a quiet search under cover of a routine review of a cold case.

    Meticulously retracing the original inquiry, Rutledge begins to know Alan Barrington well, delving into relationships and secrets that hadn’t surfaced in 1910. But is he too close to finding his man? His sanity is suddenly brought into question by a shocking turn of events. His sister Frances, Melinda Crawford, and Dr. Fleming stand by him, but there is no greater shame than shell shock. Questioning himself, he realizes that he cannot look back. The only way to save his career—much less his sanity—is to find Alan Barrington and bring him to justice. But is this elusive murderer still in England?

    My take

    It is January 1921, and Eddie Wade has come to a small village in Gloucestershire looking for his wife at an address that doesn't exist. Desperate, he climbs the church roof and threatens to throw himself and the Vicar's daughter off unless someone finds his wife for him.

    Rutledge is travelling back to London when he is stopped outside the village and helps get Eddie Wade down from the roof. He manages to reunite Wade with his wife and in return Wade tells him a story he's heard in prison. The man in the cell next door saw a man alight from the ferry from Ireland and swore that he had recognised the man thought to be responsible for the death of a woman on the road after Black Ascot.

    Rutledge decides to pass on the story to his superior officer at the Yard, and is assigned the role of seeing if he can find Barrington, the man who was going to be brought to trial in 1910.

    Rutledge gets close to the killer and is shot himself. The strange thing is that it looks as if he might have turned the gun on to himself.

    There are characters in this series who provide threads between the books, and so I think it is series that works best for the reader if you have read some of the series before.  I enjoy them for their historical flavour and for the well constructed mysteries. Readers of the series will not be disappointed with this one.

    My rating: 4.5
    I've also read
    4.8, A FEARSOME DOUBT -#6
    A PALE HORSE -#10
    4.5, A DUTY TO THE DEAD - Bess Crawford series
    4.7, A LONELY DEATH -#13
    4.6, THE CONFESSION - #14
    4.7, HUNTING SHADOWS - #16
    4.7, NO SHRED OF EVIDENCE - #18
    4.7, RACING THE DEVIL - #19
    4.7, THE GATEKEEPER - #20 

    Review: SERVICE OF ALL THE DEAD, Colin Dexter - audio book

    • Narrated by: Samuel West
    • Series: Inspector Morse Mysteries, Book 4
    • Length: 7 hrs and 49 mins
    • Unabridged Audiobook
    • Release date: 10-05-17
    • originally published 1979
    • Language: English
    • Publisher: Macmillan Digital Audio
    Synopsis (Audible)

    Chief Inspector Morse, a middle-aged bachelor with a fondness for crossword puzzles, Mozart, and attractive women, investigates a series of suspicious and sinister events at Oxfords Church of St. Frideswide.

    The sweet countenance of Reason greeted Morse serenely when he woke and told him that it would be no bad idea to have a quiet look at the problem itself before galloping off to a solution.

    Chief Inspector Morse was alone among the congregation in suspecting continued unrest in the quiet parish of St Frideswide's.

    Most people could still remember the churchwarden's murder. A few could still recall the murderer's suicide. Now even the police had closed the case.

    Until a chance meeting among the tombstones reveals startling new evidence of a conspiracy to deceive...

    My Take

    Six dead bodies makes this story feel very complicated. How many of them are murders and how many are connected to each other? Morse himself is responsible for the death of the final person.

    This is almost a cold case, or at least an unsolved mystery. The first murder took place in the vestry during a service when the church warden was stabbed by an intruder as he was counting the collection. The second followed soon after when the vicar threw himself off the bell tower. The most recent was nursing sister found dead in a hotel room.  It took some time to work out her identity.

    It takes Morse's peculiar brain to work out how all the deaths are connected to each other.

    The novel is divided into four books. Each book takes its name from a book of the Old Testament and follows a different style of writing. Notably, the third is in the form of a statement taken from a witness and the fourth (mostly) takes the form of court proceedings.

    It is a very convoluted set of events, and I don't feel that the structure of the novel helped create a particularly successful audio production, although the narration is excellent once again.

    The final events show us just how human Morse is.

    My rating: 4.3

    I have also read
    4.3, INSPECTOR MORSE: BBB Radio Collection
    4.5, THE SECRET OF ANNEXE THREE -audio book
    4.6, THE WENCH IS DEAD, Colin Dexter - audio book

    1 October 2019

    Pick of the Month - September 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 September 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 -
    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.

    Review: THE NEVER GAME, Jeffery Deaver

    • this large print edition published by Gale 2019
    • ISBN 978-1-4328-6339-5
    • 598 pages
    • source: my local library
    • #1 in the Colter Shaw series
    Synopsis (author website)

    The first novel in a thrilling new series.

    Colter Shaw is an itinerate “reward-seeker,” traveling the country to help police solve crimes and private citizens locate missing persons. When he learns of a reward for a missing college student in Silicon Valley, he takes the job. The investigation quickly thrusts him into the dark heart of Silicon Valley and the cutthroat billion-dollar video gaming industry–and then a second kidnapping happens…and this victim turns up dead.

    The clues soon point to one video game, The Never Game, in which the player has to survive after being left abandoned. Is a madman bringing that game to life? If so, Shaw has to stop him before he strikes again…and before he figures out that Shaw is on his trail.

    My take:

    A young woman goes missing and her father puts up a reward for her recovery. Soon after Shaw finds her, her boy friend is shot dead, and then another person goes missing. This time the kidnapped person does not survive.

    The investigation takes Shaw into the heart of the video gaming industry and into Silicon Valley, where he learns what the NBT (next big thing) is.

    A thread that runs through the story is what happened to Shaw's father 15 years earlier. Frustratingly this thread is left open to be continued in the next book in the series, to be published in 2020. A lot of the book is taken up with reminiscences about Ashton Shaw and allusions to his philosophy.

    In the book, confusingly, the video game behind the kidnappings is called The Whispering Man, and The Never Game has a slightly different connotation. 

    My rating: 4.1

    I've also read
    4.2, EDGE

    26 September 2019

    Review: SLEEPING PARTNER, James Humphreys

    • this edition published by Macmillan 2000
    • ISBN 0-333-90106-1
    • 359 pages
    • source: my local library
    Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

    A ...courtroom thriller, seen through the eyes of the accused. A ... debut novel from a very promotable young author, whose day job is at 10 Downing Street.

    Clarissa Morland is twenty-seven, attractive, shy - and standing trial for the murder of her ex-lover John Grant. John was shot at dawn as he answered the door of his isolated farmhouse. But Clarissa has no memory of this. All she can remember is being cut free from the wreckage of her car that same morning, after what looks like a frantic getaway. As intimate details of her life and relationship are laid bare for the court, even Clarissa finds it hard to believe she is innocent. But murdering the man she loved in cold blood? She's just not that evil - is she?

    My take

    It has been nearly nine months since the murder of John Grant and Clarissa Moorland still has no memory of the day. She was found in her wrecked car, badly injured, shortly after John's body was discovered. She spent weeks in hospital and eventually the police charged her with the murder.

    This novel gives an account of her trial. She does not know whether she is guilty of John's murder or not as she simply has no memory. The police prosecutor wants to prove the case that they have built up but it becomes very obvious that once they latched onto the possibility of Clarissa's guilt, the police did not follow up other possibilities. It is almost as if they concluded she was guilty and then set about fitting the facts to their conclusion.

    The witnesses for the prosecution include those who want to make a name for themselves, and among the witnesses are surprisingly some people who believe Clarissa is innocent. There are of course those who are carrying out their own private vendetta.

    The story is rather slow at times as Clarissa considers the idea that she may be guilty and looks at what the future may hold for her. Despite the slow pace, it raises some interesting considerations, and made intriguing reading.

    I think I will definitely be looking for another by this author.

    My rating: 4.3

    22 September 2019

    Review: THE SCHOLAR, Dervla McTiernan

    • this edition published by Harper Collins 2019
    • ISBN 978-14607-5422-1
    • 360 pages
    • source: my local library
    Synopsis (publisher)

    Being brilliant has never been this dangerous ...

    When Dr Emma Sweeney stumbles across the victim of a hit and run outside Galway University late one evening, she calls her partner, Detective Cormac Reilly, bringing him first to the scene of a murder that would otherwise never have been assigned to him. A security card in the dead woman's pocket identifies her as Carline Darcy, a gifted student and heir apparent to Irish pharmaceutical giant Darcy Therapeutics. The multi-billion-dollar company, founded by her grandfather, has a finger in every pie, from sponsoring university research facilities to funding political parties to philanthropy - it has funded Emma's own ground-breaking research. The enquiry into Carline's death promises to be high profile and high pressure.

    As Cormac investigates, evidence mounts that the death is linked to a Darcy laboratory and, increasingly, to Emma herself. Cormac is sure she couldn't be involved, but as his running of the case comes under scrutiny from the department and his colleagues, he is forced to question his own objectivity. Could his loyalty to Emma have led him to overlook evidence? Has it made him a liability?

    My take

    This novel leaps from one complexity to another.

    Detective Cormac Reilly has spent the last year on the back burner, investigating cold cases at least 30 years old and now his boss has just decided to allow him to take on the Henderson case, where a manipulative husband planned to kill his wife and children. He is not sure why Murphy has allowed him to take over the case, maybe so he can trip over his own shoe laces.

    So the hit and run death outside Galway University is not at first his case, but eventually there is a reshuffle of case loads and it comes to him.

    The first discovery is that the person whom they think the victim is, is very much alive and so the body needs to be identified. Even though she is carrying Carline Darcy's swipe pass, Carline says she does on know her. There is some doubt about whether Cormac should be investigating this case because his girlfriend discovered the body. But Emma is cleared of involvement although some in the investigating team insist on referring to her as "the suspect".

    Cormac is not really sure of who in his team will not undermine him, and loyalties become very important as the case progresses.

    An excellent read.

    My rating: 4.8

    I've also read
    4.8, THE RUIN

    19 September 2019

    Review: THE RUMOUR, Lesley Kara

    • this edition published by Bantam 2018
    • ISBN 978-1-7876-3004-8
    • 304 pages
    • source: my local library 
    Synopsis (publisher)

    When single mum Joanna shares a rumour at the school gates – desperate to ingratiate herself with the clique of mothers at her son’s new school – there is no going back . . .

    Rumour has it that a notorious child killer is living under a new identity, in their sleepy little town of Flinstead-on-Sea.

    Sally McGowan was just ten when she stabbed little Robbie Harris to death over 47 years ago – no photos of her exist since her release as a young woman.

    So who is the supposedly reformed killer who now lives amongst them? How dangerous can one rumour become? And how far will Joanna go to protect her loved ones from harm, when she realizes what it is she’s unleashed?

    My take

    There is a lot going on in this novel. Single mum Joanna has newly moved into the area and this is new school for Alfie. Her mother suggests she latch on to some of the other mothers to help make potential friends for her son Alfie who is having some problems settling in.

    Joanna overhears some gossip which she passes on to the book group that she joins and it seems to her that it spreads like wildfire. Indeed someone sends her scary messages on Twitter and then the owner of a local shop is targeted.

    Alfie's father is a journalist and he becomes interested in the Sally McGowan story and also decides to move into Joanna's flat to see if they can make a go of their relationship.

    In her search to see if there is any truth to the rumour Joanna discovers that the truth is much closer to home.

    My rating: 4.4

    About the author

    Lesley Kara is the author of the Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller, THE RUMOUR, published in December 2018. Her second novel, WHO DID YOU TELL, is out in January 2020.

    17 September 2019

    Review: THE HUNTING PARTY, Lucy Foley

    • this edition published by Harper Collins 2019
    • ISBN 978-0-00-829712-1
    • 389 pages
    • source: my local library
    Synopsis (publisher)

    The beautiful one
    The golden couple
    The volatile one
    The new parents
    The quiet one
    The city boy
    The outsider

    The victim.

    Not an accident – a murder among friends.

    My take

    They've been meeting every New Year's weekend for as long as most of them have known each other, and everyone has agreed that this remote location north of Fort William in Scotland is the best ever.

    Four days in Highland wilderness in cabins and a lodge near Loch Corrin. It's very exclusive, nine guests and the gamekeeper and the manager.

    Right from the beginning of the book, on 2nd January 2019,  we know there is a body, but we don't know who it is or, for most of the time, whether it is male or female.

    The narration hops around the time frame from 30 December to 2nd January, and from narrator to narrator. So we see events from several sets of eyes, but events don't necessarily overlap.  The guest is reported missing on New Year's Day and the gamekeeper finds the body early the next day.

    I must admit to worrying about whether I would find the structure of the novel confusing, but it certainly gives the reader an "insider's view" of the relationships between the characters.  It also preserves the anonymity of the victim, because the person keeps contributing to the narration right up to the end.

    A good read.

    My rating: 4.6

    About the author
    Lucy Foley studied English Literature at Durham and UCL universities. She then worked for several years as a fiction editor in the publishing industry – during which time she also wrote The Book of Lost and Found. Lucy now writes full-time, and is busy travelling (for research, naturally) and working on her next novel.Visit her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/LucyFoleyAuthor and follow her on Twitter @LucyFoleyTweets and Instagram @Lucy_F_Author

    Review: THE CHAIN, Adrian McKinty

    • this edition published by Hachette Australia 2019
    • ISBN 978-0-7336-4251-7
    • 357 pages
    • source: review copy from publisher
    Synopsis (publisher)


    The morning starts like any other. Rachel Klein drops her daughter, Kylie, at the bus stop and heads into her day. But then a phone call changes everything. A woman has Kylie bound and gagged in her back seat, and the only way Rachel will ever see her again is if she pays a ransom - and kidnaps another child. The caller is a mother herself, whose son has also been abducted, and if Rachel doesn't do exactly as she's told, both children will die. Rachel is now part of a terrifying scheme - The Chain.

    The rules are simple: find the money, find your victim, and then commit a horrible act you'd have thought yourself incapable of just 24 hours ago. Rachel is an ordinary woman, but over the coming days she will be pushed beyond ordinary limits to save her daughter. What the anonymous masterminds behind The Chain know is that parents will do anything for their children. But what they don't know is that they may have met their match.

    Can Rachel be the one person to finally break The Chain?


    My Take

    We all remember those chain letters from childhood.  My parents always told us to burn them, not to do whatever they are asked you to do. I always had a little bit of fear about what retribution might be wreaked on me if I broke the chain. And surely the people who sent me the letter were my friends and could be trusted?

    The first half of the book deals with Rachel's case. All she knows for sure is that someone has taken her daughter Kylie from the bus stop. There is a ransom to be paid and then Rachel has to kidnap someone-else's child and Kylie will not be released until the ransom for that child has been paid. There are rules about who Rachel can contact, the ransom has to be paid into a bit-coin account, and the whole process might take at least 4 or 5 days. And if things don't happen to schedule then the ransom might be raised. Once Rachel has completed paying the ransom then she must seach for another victim. Meantime she is occasionally contacted by people who have been earlier links in the chain, to reassure her that she will get Kylie back if she plays by the rules.

    People in the Chain are linked together by their need to keep their own children alive. The person who has taken Kylie is still waiting for her son to be returned, and that won't happen until Rachel completes both steps in the process: paid the ransom, and kidnapped a child herself.

    Once she has Kylie back then Rachel begins to think about who the monsters are started the Chain.

    An engrossing read, a real page turner, but very noir. It may not be your cup of tea.
    The book has the reader asking questions of yourself.

    My rating: 4.8

    I've also read
    4.2, BELFAST NOIR, Adrian McKinty (ed) and Stuart Neville (ed)

    About the author
    Adrian McKinty was born and grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland during the Troubles of the 1970s and 1980s. His father was a boilermaker and ship's engineer and his mother a secretary. Adrian went to Oxford University on a full scholarship to study philosophy before emigrating to the United States to become a high school English teacher. His debut crime novel Dead I Well May Be was shortlisted for the 2004 Dagger Award and was optioned by Universal Pictures. His books have won the Edgar Award, the Ned Kelly Award, the Anthony Award, the Barry Award and have been translated into over 20 languages. Adrian is a reviewer and critic for The Sydney Morning Herald, The Irish Times and The Guardian. He lives in New York City with his wife and two children.

    12 September 2019

    Review: DARK SATURDAY, Nicci French

    • this edition published (large print) by Gale in 2017
    • ISBN 978-1-4328-4275-8
    • 561 pages
    • #Freda Klein series: 6
    • source: my local library
    Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

    Thirteen years ago eighteen year old Hannah Docherty was arrested for the brutal murder of her family. It was an open and shut case and Hannah's been incarcerated in a secure hospital ever since.

    When psychotherapist Frieda Klein is asked to meet Hannah and give her assessment of her she reluctantly agrees. What she finds horrifies her. Hannah has become a tragic figure, old before her time. And Frieda is haunted by the thought that Hannah might be as much of a victim as her family; that something wasn't right all those years ago.

    And as Hannah's case takes hold of her, Frieda soon begins to realise that she's up against someone who'll go to any lengths to protect themselves . . .

    Saturday Requiem is the sixth addictive and intriguing novel in the Frieda Klein series by the bestselling author Nicci French.

    My Take

    There are threads and characters that connect this novel to ones earlier in the series of which it is #6. You'll see from my list below that I haven't read #5 so I guess that explains why I struggled to "remember" some of the connections.

    Once Frieda is asked to look at the case of Hannah Docherty, it is almost inevitable that she is going to consider whether Hannah was wrongly convicted. Hannah is certainly being badly treated, not protected at all from abuse by other inmates, in the psychiatric hospital. And Hannah herself looks much older than she actually is. She is also almost totally uncommunicative. She seems convinced that she actually did kill her family, her mother, stepfather and young brother, but she is also confused and traumatised by the thought.

    Frieda becomes convinced that the police investigation was too hasty. In addition only Hannah was  asked to identify the victims and she did that when she was in total shock. The police became quickly convinced that Hannah was the murderer, but also unfit to stand trial.

    As Frieda expands her investigation it becomes clear that someone does not want her to find the truth.

    The other thread that runs through these novels is about Dean Reeve, a man who stalks Frieda, but at the same time appears to protect her. He is elusive but Frieda is convinced he has recently been in her house.  This thread is designed to link the novels together, but I actually find it annoying and distracting.

    My rating: 4.4

    I've also read
    4.3, BLUE MONDAY

    10 September 2019

    Review: THE WENCH IS DEAD, Colin Dexter - audio

    • this edition approx 6 hours
    • Publisher: Macmillan Digital Audio; Unabridged edition edition
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 1509885102
    • ISBN-13: 978-1509885107
    • Narrator: Samuel West
    • source: my local library
    Synopsis (Amazon)

    That night he dreamed in Technicolor. He saw the ochre-skinned, scantily clad siren in her black, arrowed stockings. And in Morse's muddled computer of a mind, that siren took the name of one Joanna Franks....

    The body of Joanna Franks was found at Duke's Cut on the Oxford Canal at about 5:30 a.m. on Wednesday, 22nd June 1859.

    At around 10.15 a.m. on a Saturday morning in 1989 the body of Chief Inspector Morse - though very much alive - was removed to Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital. Treatment for a perforated ulcer was later pronounced successful.

    As Morse begins his recovery he comes across an account of the investigation and the trial that followed Joanna Franks' death...and becomes convinced that the two men hanged for her murder were innocent....

    My Take

    I'm so glad I've discovered this set of unabridged productions of the Morse books. At between 6 and 7 hours they are lovely renditions of Dexter's novels.

    Lying in hospital recovering from a perforated ulcer Morse is given a small book written by a recently died patient investigating the very cold case of a woman who was found drowned in the Oxford Canal over 100 years earlier. As he reads he feels there was something wrong with the verdict which convicted 3 canal boatmen of the murder, but he can't put his finger on it. Luckily the man in the neighbouring bed is visited by his daughter who works in the Bodliean, just the sort of research assistant he needs.

    Highly recommnended.

    My rating: 4.6

    I've also read
    4.3, INSPECTOR MORSE: BBB Radio Collection
    4.5, THE SECRET OF ANNEXE THREE -audio book 

    6 September 2019

    Review: THE TURN OF THE KEY, Ruth Ware

    • format: kindle (amazon)
    • File Size: 2870 KB
    • Print Length: 337 pages
    • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1982128895
    • Publisher: Vintage Digital (August 8, 2019)
    • Publication Date: August 8, 2019
    • Sold by: PRH UK
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B07H9NSJ1P
    Synopsis (amazon)


    When Rowan stumbles across the advert, it seems like too good an opportunity to miss: a live-in nanny position, with a very generous salary. And when she arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten by the luxurious ‘smart’ home fitted out with all modern conveniences by a picture-perfect family.

    What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare – one that will end with a child dead and her in cell awaiting trial for murder.

    She knows she’s made mistakes. But she’s not guilty – at least not of murder. Which means someone else is…

    My take

    Rowan Cane is in jail writing a letter to a barrister pleading for him to represent her in her upcoming trial. Her letter to Mr Wrexham tells the story of how she came to be in HMP Charnworth awaiting trial for murder.

    So in a sense it is a case of how reliable Rowan is as a narrator. Is she telling us the whole truth? What don't we know about her?

    A truly fascinating read, with an almost Gothic feel about it. Rowan has been offered a very demanding job, very highly paid, but the last four nannies have all left. In addition, her employers leave almost straight away, leaving Rowan in a very high tech house, with three little girls who do not really like her. A very demanding job indeed even for a super nanny. And things begin to go wrong almost immediately.

    But the really staggering thing about this story is the incredible twist at the end, which won't make any sense unless you've absorbed the whole book.

    I've made it the top of my list for this year.

    If you haven't read anything by Ruth Ware, time to start. And then follow it up with others from my list below.

    My rating: 5.0

    I've also read
    4.4, THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10

    1 September 2019

    Review: THE WOODS, Harlan Coben

    • this edition published by Thorndike 2007
    • ISBN 978-0-7862-9488-6
    • 588 pages
    • source: my local library
    Synopsis (Good Reads)

    Twenty years ago at summer camp, Paul Copeland's sister died in the woods, the alleged victim of a serial killer. Her body was never found. Now, Paul is the prosecutor for Essex County, New Jersey, immersed in one of the biggest cases of his career-a case that will change everything he believes about the past...and the truth.

    My Take

    Paul Copeland is a single father raising a young daughter, and also the county prosecutor of Essex, New Jersey.

    He is in the middle of a rape case when the father of one of the rapists decides to do whatever he can to keep his son out of jail. He gives a sleazy investigative firm carte blanche to do whatever they can to investigate Copeland and to deflect him from the prosecution.

    They focus on the disappearance of Copeland's sister twenty years earlier and soon the ghosts begin to rise. A homicide victim turns out to be a man who died twenty years before and Copeland is left wondering if his sister is also still alive. If she is, who knew about it?

    Although this is a mesmerising tale, it takes a long time to get anywhere and like most Coben novels that I have read it spans a huge amount of time and enormous array of characters.

    My rating: 4.5

    I've also read
    4.4, CAUGHT
    4.3, DON'T LET GO
    4.5, RUN AWAY

    Pick of the Month - August 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 August 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 -
    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.

    31 August 2019

    Review: THE SECRET OF ANNEXE THREE, Colin Dexter - audio book

    • By: Colin Dexter
    • Narrated by: Samuel West
    • Series: Inspector Morse Mysteries, Book 7
    • Length: 7 hrs and 11 mins
    • audio book: Macmillan Digital Audio
    • source: my local library
    Synopsis (Audible)

    Morse sought to hide his disappointment. So many people in the Haworth Hotel that fateful evening had been wearing some sort of disguise - a change of dress, a change of makeup, a change of partner, a change of attitude, a change of life almost; and the man who had died had been the most consummate artist of them all....

    Chief Inspector Morse seldom allowed himself to be caught up in New Year celebrations. So the murder inquiry in the festive hotel had a certain appeal.

    It was a crime worthy of the season.

    The corpse was still in fancy dress. And hardly a single guest at the Haworth had registered under a genuine name....

    My Take

    I've actually read most or all of the Morse books years ago (prior to this blog commencing), as well as seeing most of the TV versions with John Thaw and Kevin Whately.
    However the audio version gives you a chance to contemplate Colin Dexter's skill as a writer, and in particular how clever he is as a plotter and how literary his expression is.

    Samuel West does a lovely job of narration, and I'm looking forward to my next.

    My rating: 4.5

    I've already read
    4.3, INSPECTOR MORSE: BBB Radio Collection

    27 August 2019

    Review: THE MISTLETOE BRIDE, Kate Mosse

    • this edition published 2013 Orion Books
    • ISBN 978-1-4091-4804-3
    • 290 pages
    • source: my local library
    Synopsis (author website)

    The perfect winter ghost short story collection from the No.1 bestselling author of LABYRINTH and THE WINTER GHOSTS.

    "I hear someone coming. It has happened before. I pause and listen but no longer hear anything. I sigh. As always, hope is snatched away before it can take root. And so then, as always, I am carried back to that first December so very long ago..."

    Rooted in the elemental landscapes of Sussex, Brittany and the Languedoc, here are tales of ghosts and spirits seeking revenge, grief-stricken women and haunted men coming to terms with their destiny.

    My Take

    Mystery rather crime fiction.

    This volume contains 14 short stories and a short play.
    Each short story is accompanied by an account of what inspired the writing of it, whether it is connected to local folklore, and when it was published.
    This was Kate Mosse's first collection of short stories, and only 6 of them had been published before.

    The author says "What they have in common is a protagonist is a state of crisis, someone whose emotional state makes them more susceptible to experiences or happenings outside everyday life. They are men and women who, for a moment at least, have slipped between the cracks of the physical world we can see and understand and into a shadow world that may or may not exist."

    I love short stories. The bonus was to find out what was behind the writing of it.
    Most were historical, maybe a little Gothic, in flavour, and a bit Poe-ish. 

    The ones I liked best were The Misteltoe Bride, The Drowned Village, and the House on the Hill.

    My rating: 4.5

    I've also read

    24 August 2019

    Review: HEAD IN THE SAND, Damien Boyd

    • this edition published by Thomas & Mercer (Amazon imprint) 2015
    • ISBN 978-1477821046
    • 198 pages
    • source: my local library
    Synopsis (publisher)

    The discovery of a severed head in a golf course bunker triggers a frantic race to find a serial killer that brings the town of Burnham-on-Sea to a standstill.

    A connection is made with a series of unsolved murders harking back to the 1970s, and Detective Inspector Nick Dixon finds himself caught in a race against time that takes him the length and breadth of the country.

    The brutal killing of an elderly man raises the stakes and, as he closes in, Dixon begins to question whether he is chasing one serial killer or two.

    Head in the Sand is the second novel in the DI Nick Dixon Crime Series

    My Take

    A nice solid police procedural with a enough mystery threads to keep you reading. An author that I first discovered earlier this year.

    The main setting for this novel is Burnham-on-Sea, a large seaside town in Somerset, England, at the mouth of the River Parrett, upon Bridgwater Bay. 

    My rating: 4.4

    I've also read

    According to Fantastic Fiction the published series is
    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)
    So I may well look for another. 

    22 August 2019

    Review: SISTERS, Gabrielle Lord

    Synopsis (publisher)

    Sydney screenwriter Greta Maitland’s life crashes at the arrival of the postcard from Crete:

    ‘Sorry to tell you this, but your sister Xanthe has been missing since May. Police have found no trace….’

    Greta immediately flies to Crete to continue the stalled investigation, but there, runs into deceit; the Cretan police officer deliberately mistranslates her questions; Xanthe’s lover lies … more and more disturbing facts emerge about her sister and Greta’s growing suspicions about her husband seem confirmed.

    In the ancient house inherited by the sisters, where Xanthe had first been living, Greta notices a faintly penciled phone number surrounded by a love heart, missed by the police and this leads her to the beautiful Etz Hayyim synagogue in Chania, and to her sister’s secret lover.

    Using only Xanthe’s damaged artist’s journal and paintings as possible leads, and with earthquakes threatening, Greta must uncover the extraordinary events that have led to her sister’s disappearance. But can her marriage survive such betrayal? And can Greta herself survive the earthquakes in Crete, both emotional and physical, and their shattering consequences?

    My Take

    While there is plenty of mystery in this story, it is not crime fiction.

    Greta's husband Magnus tells her that he has arranged a holiday for them on the French Riviera and almost immediately two things happen which throw those plans aside. First of all her mother, in the last stage of Alzheimers' dies; and then a postcard arrives telling her that her sister Xanthe who has been in Crete for three years is missing. Immmediately after her mother's funeral Greta flies out to Crete to look for her sister.

    Almost immediately things back in Australia go awry. Magnus' career as Assistant Police Commissioner in New South Wales goes into jeopardy, he is unable to cope with his teenage daughter and young son, and Greta's publisher wants her next script.

    In Crete Greta manages to find out what the police know about her sister's disappearance and she starts to look for clues about where she might be.  On the phone from Australia her husband Magnus becomes increasingly angry and at the same time very distant.

    So this is a mystery rather than crime fiction. I found it a difficult read sometimes, a bit too philosophical, and several times was on the verge of giving up.

    In March this year Gabrielle Lord wrote
    Sisters is finally making its way into the shops.  It's been a long process, held up by unforeseen circumstances but now I'm hoping it goes out into the world and is well received.  This is the worry time for writers.  Will people like it?  Will it be well reviewed? Will it sell?  I'm hopeful that such a good story, well-researched --I lived in Crete for months in the northwest town of Kissamos where the story is set in order to get things right -- well, as right as a non-resident is able, with strong characters, facing difficult choices and often in some danger, create a novel which has been described as 'unputdownable'.  Wilkinson publishing has been very supportive (thank you Jess!) and although it's been a 'difficult birth', the result makes me happy.  I hope it'll bring the same satisfaction to all my readers.

    I think maybe it was the depth of research that got in the way of my enjoyment. At times it read like a travelogue. But read it for yourself.

    My rating: 4.2

    I've also read


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