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)

VICTIM. KIDNAPPER. CRIMINAL. YOU WILL BECOME EACH ONE.

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?

#DONTBREAKTHECHAIN

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
FIFTY GRAND
4.6, THE COLD COLD GROUND
4.8, I HEAR THE SIRENS IN THE STREET
4.6, FALLING GLASS
4.9, IN THE MORNING I'LL BE GONE
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

  • aka SATURDAY REQUIEM
  • 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
4.5, TUESDAY'S GONE
4.7, WAITING FOR WEDNESDAY
4.7, FRIDAY ON MY MIND

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)

IT WAS THE DREAM JOB. IT WOULD BECOME HER WORST NIGHTMARE.

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
4.8, IN A DARK, DARK WOOD
4.4, THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10
4.8, THE DEATH OF MRS WESTAWAY

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
4.3, NO SECOND CHANCE
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 -
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.


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
4.4, THE TAXIDERMIST'S DAUGHTER
4.4, THE BURNING CHAMBERS  

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
4.2, AS THE CROW FLIES

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
BABY DID A BAD BAD THING
DEATH DELIGHTS
DIRTY WEEKEND
4.4, DEATH BY BEAUTY 

18 August 2019

Review: SNAP, Belinda Bauer

  • this edition published by Penguin UK 2018
  • ISBN 9781784160852
  • 434 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (publisher)

SNAP DECISIONS CAN BE DANGEROUS . . .

On a stifling summer's day, eleven-year-old Jack and his two sisters sit in their broken-down car, waiting for their mother to come back and rescue them. Jack's in charge, she'd said. I won't be long.
But she doesn't come back. She never comes back. And life as the children know it is changed for ever.

Three years later, Jack is still in charge - of his sisters, of supporting them all, of making sure nobody knows they're alone in the house, and - quite suddenly - of finding out the truth about what happened to his mother. . .

My Take

August 1998. The broken down car is parked on the side of the highway and Jack's pregnant mother has walked to the emergency phone to get help. But when Jack takes his sisters to find his mother, she is not there.

Three years later Jack's devastated father has walked out and Jack is trying to feed his sisters by stealing from local houses. The children are no longer going to school and he and his sisters are barely surviving.

A new neighbour has moved in next door. Her son is a policeman and she is a bit nosy.

Detective Chief Inspector John Marvel has been newly appointed to the West Country because of various failures when he was in London investigating murders. He feels he has been demoted, out in the cold, and now he is expected to take charge of the investigation of burglaries.

But there is much more to this case than he anticipated.

I enjoyed the development of the characters in this story and the way the storyline progressed.
I wonder if we will see more of John Marvel?

My rating: 4.8

I've also read
5.0, BLACKLANDS
4.8, THE SHUT EYE

15 August 2019

Review: FORGET MY NAME, J S Monroe

  • this edition published by Head of Zeus, 2018
  • ISBN 9-781786-698056
  • 419 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Amazon)
She arrived into Heathrow after a difficult week at work. Her bag had been stolen. Her whole life was in there - passport, wallet, house key. When she tried to report the theft, she couldn't remember her own name. All she knew was her own address.

Now she is at the door of Tony and Laura, a young couple living in Wiltshire. She says she lives in their home. They say they have never met her before. One of them is lying. But which one?

My Take

Tony and Laura feel sorry for the young woman standing on their doorstep and invite her to stay overnight in the hope that her memory will return. Tony says she looks like a Jemma, so that is the name they call her by. Jemma is carrying a small suitcase but there is no clue about who she is.

They take her to see a local doctor who thinks she recognises her. Jemma is diagnosed with a form of amnesia. Susie, the doctor, messages Laura warning her that she should be very careful about their house guest. At the local pub a man called Luke thinks he also recognises Jemma but is not sure from where.

After the doctor's message Laura becomes less comfortable with Jemma staying in the house.

An engrossing read where the tension builds as more clues accumulate about Jemma's possible identity.

I thought there was a bit of a hitch about midway through the book, and wasn't entirely happy with the final plot resolution.

My rating: 4.4

About the author

J.S.Monroe is the pen name of Jon Stock, author of five acclaimed spy novels and 'To Snare a Spy', a spy novella.

Jon lives in Wiltshire with his wife and three children. After reading English at Cambridge University, he worked as a freelance journalist in London, writing features for most of Britain's national newspapers, as well as contributing regularly to BBC Radio 4. He was also chosen for Carlton TV's acclaimed screenwriters course. Between 1998 and 2000, he was Delhi correspondent for the Daily Telegraph, and he also wrote the Last Word column in The Week Magazine (India) from 1995, when he lived in Cochin, South India, to 2012.

12 August 2019

Review: 55, James Delargy

  • this edition published by Simon and Schuster UK 2019
  • ISBN: 978-14-7118-463-5
  • 423 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (publisher)

There were 54 victims before this. Who is number 55? A thriller with a killer hook, and an ending that will make you gasp!

Wilbrook in Western Australia is a sleepy, remote town that sits on the edge of miles and miles of unexplored wilderness. It is home to Police Sergeant Chandler Jenkins, who is proud to run the town’s small police station, a place used to dealing with domestic disputes and noise complaints.

All that changes on a scorching day when an injured man stumbles into Chandler’s station. He’s covered in dried blood. His name is Gabriel. He tells Chandler what he remembers.
He was drugged and driven to a cabin in the mountains and tied up in iron chains. The man who took him was called Heath. Heath told Gabriel he was going to be number 55. His 55th victim.

Heath is a serial killer.

As a manhunt is launched, a man who says he is Heath walks into the same station. He tells Chandler he was taken by a man named Gabriel. Gabriel told Heath he was going to be victim 55.

Gabriel is the serial killer.

Two suspects. Two identical stories. Which one is the truth?

James Delargy has written one of the most exciting debuts of 2019. He masterfully paints the picture of a remote Western Australian town and its people, swallowed whole by the hunt for a serial killer.

My Take

Two stories are told in tandem. One from the present and one from ten years ago.

In the story from ten years ago a young man is missing in the bush and two very new policemen are heading the search party in the rough country near Wilbrook.

Now, ten years on, one of the policemen is the Sergeant at the Wilbrook station when a an injured man arrives, claiming to have been captured and imprisoned by a serial killer. Two days later another man turns up with the same story.

The second policeman is now the Inspector at the Port Headland station and he and his officers turn up to take on the investigation at Wilbrook. There is a lot of animosity between the two, largely stemming from their experiences ten years before.

This novel reads as if the author is Australian and I was surprised to realise that he is not.
A good read.

My rating: 4.5

About the author
James Delargy was born and raised in Ireland and lived in South Africa, Australia and Scotland, before ending up in semi-rural England where he now lives. He incorporates this diverse knowledge of towns, cities, landscape and culture picked up on his travels into his writing. 55 is his first novel.

11 August 2019

Review: CLOSED CASKET, Sophie Hannah - audio book

  • audio book - unabridged,
  • narrated by Julian Rhind-Tutt
  • source: my local library
  • length: 10 hours
  • publisher: www.harperaudio.com 
  • published 2016
Synopsis:  Audible.com

Hercule Poirot returns in another brilliant murder mystery that can be solved only by the eponymous Belgian detective and his 'little grey cells'.

'What I intend to say to you will come as a shock....'

Lady Athelinda Playford has planned a house party at her mansion in Clonakilty, County Cork, but it is no ordinary gathering. As guests arrive, Lady Playford summons her lawyer to make an urgent change to her will - one she intends to announce at dinner that night. She has decided to cut off her two children without a penny and leave her fortune to someone who has only weeks to live....

Among Lady Playford's guests are two men she has never met - the famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot and Inspector Edward Catchpool of Scotland Yard. Neither knows why he has been invited...until Poirot starts to wonder if Lady Playford expects a murderer to strike. But why does she seem so determined to provoke in the presence of a possible killer?

When the crime is committed in spite of Poirot's best efforts to stop it, and the victim is not who he expected it to be, will he be able to find the culprit and solve the mystery?

Following the phenomenal global success of The Monogram Murders, which was published to critical acclaim following a coordinated international launch in September 2014, international best-selling crime writer Sophie Hannah has been commissioned by Agatha Christie Limited to pen a second fully authorised Poirot novel. The new audiobook marks the centenary of the creation of Christie's world-famous detective, Hercule Poirot, introduced in her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles

My Take

I have been a bit staggered to work out that I actually read the printed version of this novel 3 years ago. That didn't occur to me at all during this excellent rendition, so maybe it didn't make much of an impact on me.

The novel is a bit long winded, with an almost impenetrable mystery, lots of reasons why people would murder the victim, lots of red herrings.

I've given up thinking about whether Sophie Hannah writes well in the vein of Agatha Christie or not. I think this novel has a few questionable things: for example Hercule Poirot cheerfully crosses the Irish Sea - when we all know that Christie's detective suffered atrociously from "mal de mer".

It does have one characteristic of a Christie novel: a very long meeting between Poirot and all the other characters in which he reveals who the murderer is and how it was done.
The emphasis in the novel is on Poirot's interest in psychology and the "why' rather than the "how."

Nevertheless perfectly acceptable listening if you have 10 hours or so to spare.

My Rating: 4.4

I've also read
4.4, THE CARRIER
4.3, THE MONOGRAM MURDERS
4.2, CLOSED CASKET (printed version)

8 August 2019

Review: TRANSCRIPTION, Kate Atkinson

  • this edition published by Little, Brown and Company (large print) 2018
  • ISBN 978-0-316-45331-8
  • 445 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

'Think of it as an adventure, Perry had said right at the beginning of all this.And it had seemed like one. A bit of a lark, she had thought. A Girls' Own adventure.'

In 1940, 18-year old Juliet Armstrong is reluctantly recruited into the world of espionage. Sent to an obscure department of MI5 tasked with monitoring the comings and goings of British Fascist sympathisers, she discovers the work to be by turns both tedious and terrifying. But after the war has ended, she presumes the events of those years have been relegated to the past for ever.

Ten years later, now a producer at the BBC, Juliet is unexpectedly confronted by figures from her past. A different war is being fought now, on a different battleground, but Juliet finds herself once more under threat. A bill of reckoning is due, and she finally begins to realise that there is no action without consequence.

Transcription is a work of rare depth and texture, a bravura modern novel of extraordinary power, wit and empathy. It is a triumphant work of fiction from one of this country's most exceptional writers.

My Take

It is fascinating how many books recently published relate to World War II and are set at the start of the war.

This novel really has 3 points in time: 1940, 1950 and 1981. I will leave you to discover for yourself how those dates fit in, but it is most written from the point of view of 1950, after the War when Juliet is employed by the BBC and thinks she sees someone from her MI5 past, someone she thought she knew well, but he tells her she is mistaken.

In 1940 Juliet thinks her job of transcribing conversations from recordings is pretty boring and lacking in importance. However she does at times act in an undercover role, sometimes as a decoy, and while some of her colleagues know what is going on, Juliet seems blissfully ignorant. Nasty things happen in 1940 but then that period passes and then the war ends. After the war Juliet passes from MI5 to work st the BBC but occasionally MI5 ask favours of her.

There is a touch of "Red Joan" about this story.
Very readable, if at times a little confusing.

My rating: 4.4

I've also read
ONE GOOD TURN
WHERE WILL THERE BE GOOD NEWS?
4.6, STARTED EARLY, TOOK MY DOG-audio
LIFE AFTER LIFE 

4 August 2019

What I read in July 2019

A good reading month, with the number of books read increased because I was on holidays (but not away)
July 2019

My pick of the month was Michael Robotham's new book: GOOD GIRL BAD GIRL
See what others have read

Review: MY SISTER, THE SERIAL KILLER

  • this edition printed by Atlantic Books 2018
  • ISBN 978-1-78649-762-8
  • 226 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

When Korede's dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what's expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This'll be the third boyfriend Ayoola's dispatched in, quote, self-defence and the third mess that her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away. She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating the doctor where Korede works as a nurse. Korede's long been in love with him, and isn't prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other...

My take

Korede knows that she shouldn't be helping Ayoola to dispose of the bodies of the men that she "accidentally" kills, but she is good at it. After all she is a senior nurse at the local hospital. She keeps hoping each body will be the last. Their mother is amazingly unaware of what is going on as Ayoola's boyfriends go missing.

But then things get really serious when Ayoola begins to drop in to the hospital for lunch and meets Korede's colleagues, in particular a male doctor that Korede has her eye on.

Korede begins sharing her secrets with a patient who is in a coma, and then he wakes up and remembers some of what she has told him.

An interesting read. Really about so much more than murders.

This is really one novel where you need to look at the chapter headings because they tell you the focus of the chapter.

My rating: 4.4

About the author

Oyinkan Braithwaite is a graduate of Creative Writing and Law from Kingston University. Following her degree, she worked as an assistant editor at Kachifo, a Nigerian publishing house, and as a production manager at Ajapaworld, a children’s educational and entertainment company. She now works as a freelance writer and editor.

In 2014, she was shortlisted as a top-ten spoken-word artist in the Eko Poetry Slam, and in 2016 she was a finalist for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. She lives in Lagos, Nigeria.

Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2019
Shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2019
Winner of the LA Times Award for Best Crime Thriller, 2019 

1 August 2019

Review: CRISIS, Felix Francis

  • this edition (large print) published by Gale 2018
  • ISBN 978-1-4328-5521-5
  • 517 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Amazon)

Harrison Foster is a lawyer by training but works as a crisis manager for a London firm that specializes in such matters. Summoned to Newmarket after a fire in the Chadwick Stables slaughters six very valuable horses, including the short-priced favourite for the Derby, Harry (as he is known) finds there is far more to the ‘simple’ fire than initially meets the eye. For a start, human remains are found amongst the equestrian ones in the burnt-out shell. All the stable staff are accounted for, so who is the mystery victim?

Harry knows very little about horses, indeed he positively dislikes them, but he is thrust unwillingly into the world of Thoroughbred racing where the standard of care of the equine stars is far higher than that of the humans who attend to them.

The Chadwick family are a dysfunctional racing dynasty, with the emphasis being on the nasty. Resentment between the generations is rife and sibling rivalry bubbles away like volcanic magma beneath a thin crust of respectability.

Harry represents the Middle-Eastern owner of the Derby favourite and, as he delves deeper into the unanswered questions surrounding the horse’s demise, he ignites a fuse that blows the volcano sky-high, putting him in grave jeopardy. Can Harry solve the riddle before he is overcome by the toxic emissions from the eruption and is bumped off by the fallout?

My Take

This novel operates as a stand-alone, introducing a new investigator.

It enters the racing industry from a new perspective with a very likeable central character. In part the novel is a romance, which increases the audience sympathy for Harrison Foster.

The source of this crisis comes from the past, biting back at Oliver Chadwick, head of a very dysfunctional family, and there is not one of the family who is not really responsible for something.

There is some good detail in the background given for the thoroughbred racing industry based at Newmarket.

Very readable and up to Felix Francis' usual standard.

My rating: 4.5

I've also read
Francis, Dick & Felix
DEAD HEAT
SILKS
4.5, TO THE HILT
4.5, REFUSAL
4.5, DAMAGE, Felix Francis
4.4, FRONT RUNNER, Felix Francis  

Pick of the Month - July 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 July 2019, identify your crime fiction best read of the month, and add your post's URL to the Mr Linky below.
If Mr Linky does not appear for you, leave the URL in a comment and I will add it myself.

You can list all the books you've read in the past month on your post, even if some of them are not crime fiction, but I'd like you to nominate your crime fiction pick of the month.

That will be what you will list in Mr Linky too -
e.g.
ROSEANNA, Maj Sjowall & Per Wahloo - MiP (or Kerrie)

You are welcome to use the image on your post and it would be great if you could link your post back to this post on MYSTERIES in PARADISE.


29 July 2019

Review: GOOD GIRL, BAD GIRL, Michael Robotham

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 746 KB
  • Print Length: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Sphere (July 23, 2019)
  • Publication Date: July 23, 2019
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B07NLDBCD4
Synopsis (Amazon)

The girl with no past.

Six years ago, Evie Cormac was discovered, filthy and half-starved, hiding in a secret room in the aftermath of a shocking crime. Now approaching adulthood, Evie is damaged, self-destructive and has never revealed her true identity.

The boy who survived.

Forensic psychologist Cyrus Haven, a man haunted by his own past, is investigating the death of champion figure-skater Jodie Sheehan. When Cyrus is called upon to assess Evie, she threatens to disrupt the case and destroy his ordered life. Because Evie has a unique and dangerous gift - she knows when someone is lying. And nobody is telling the truth.

My take

We seem to have waited a while for another offering by Robotham but I don't think readers will be disappointed.

Robotham has moved away from the Joe O'Loughlin series and it remains to be revealed whether this is the beginning of a new series.

The new novel is set in Nottingham. 
The body of young Jodie Sheehan has been found murdered. Jodie was a figure skater apparently headed for the Olympics. Cyrus Haven attempts to profile the sort of person involved in Jodie's death. The police quickly come up with a suspect, but things don't quite jell for Cyrus. Cyrus asks question about Jodie which others have been reluctant to ask.

The second major plot line is the story of Angel Face, the little girl found six years earlier hiding in a house with the dead body of a man who had been tortured. She has refused to tell the police her real name or her age, but now she claims to be nearly 18, and that she should be released from institution she is living in. Cyrus is asked to assess her for potential release.

The plot lines progress together, each adding to the other, with new sub-plots giving the whole novel depth. And then the major lines cross each other.

A really good read full of twists and turns. Even half-way through I really couldn't tell where we were headed.

My rating: 4.8

I have also read
BOMBPROOF
SHATTER #3
SHATTER (audio)
BLEED FOR ME #4
5.0, THE WRECKAGE #5
4.8, SAY YOU'RE SORRY #6
5.0, WATCHING YOU #7
4.8, IF I TELL YOU... I'LL HAVE TO KILL YOU (edit)
5.0, LIFE OR DEATH Shortlisted for the 2015 CWA Gold Dagger
4.8, CLOSE YOUR EYES
5.0, THE SECRETS SHE KEEPS
5.0, THE SUSPECT #1 (audio)
4.8, LOST #2 (audio)
5.0, THE OTHER WIFE

26 July 2019

Review: AN UNWANTED GUEST, Shari Lapena

  • this edition published by Penguin UK 2018
  • ISBN 978-0-5930-7965-2
  • 292 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

We can't choose the strangers we meet.

As the guests arrive at beautiful, remote Mitchell's Inn, they're all looking forward to a relaxing weekend deep in the forest, miles from anywhere. They watch their fellow guests with interest, from a polite distance.

Usually we can avoid the people who make us nervous, make us afraid.

With a violent storm raging, the group finds itself completely cut off from the outside world. Nobody can get in - or out. And then the first body is found . . . and the horrifying truth comes to light. There's a killer among them - and nowhere to run.

Until we find ourselves in a situation we can't escape. Trapped.

My take

For me this was a one sitting book.

It is almost a locked room mystery. A group of people staying in a remote boutique hotel, seemingly not knowing anyone except the person they arrived with. There is an engaged couple a few weeks away from their wedding, a man whose wife was murdered a few years before, a couple whose marriage has almost run its course, and yet another couple who have been together for a while but who in reality know very little about each other. Two women are lucky to have arrived after their car slid off the road on the ice. The hotel is cut off in a snow storm and there is no phone, and eventually no power. But two of them recognise someone they know among the others.

The first body is discovered at the foot of the stairs the next morning, but the murderer is not obvious.

A well constructed mystery and an excellent read.

My rating: 4.6

I've also read
4.5, A STRANGER IN THE HOUSE

25 July 2019

Review: THE WYCH ELM, Tana French

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (July 30, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0735224641
  • ISBN-13: 978-0735224643
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

WHAT DO WE HIDE INSIDE OURSELVES?

One night changes everything for Toby. He's always led a charmed life - until a brutal attack leaves him damaged and traumatised, unsure even of the person he used to be. He seeks refuge at his family's ancestral home, the Ivy House, filled with memories of wild-strawberry summers and teenage parties with his cousins.

But not long after Toby's arrival, a discovery is made: a skull, tucked neatly inside the old wych elm in the garden.

As detectives begin to close in, Toby is forced to examine everything he thought he knew about his family, his past, and himself.

A spellbinding book from a novelist who takes crime writing and turns it inside out, The Wych Elm asks what we become, and what we're capable of, if we no longer know who we are.

My take

An enthralling and very complex book.

Toby didn't really want to return to the Ivy House and he wasn't really sure why. After he was attacked at home and beaten almost to death, his memory had great holes. But the family thought that going to stay at the Ivy House would help in his recuperation and also solve the problem of someone being there to look after Hugo.

The discovery of the skull hidden in the wych elm changes all that and becomes a pivotal point in the novel. How recent is the skull? The elm has been there about 200 years. But then the identity of the skull is discovered and the question becomes one of who put it there. Toby realises it must be someone he knows and he is not even sure it isn't himself.

There is no getting away from the fact that this is a long book. It is made to feel longer by the fact that it seems to take so long to get wherever it is going,  and for much of the time the reader is not sure what the outcome will be.  You are not really sure of how much detail you need to hang onto. And some of the main characters are simply unlikeable. I even felt ambivalent about Toby himself. I kept thinking about how unobservant and self-absorbed he must have been when he was younger. And then, we are nearly at the end when something quite awful and unpredictable happens.

My rating: 4.5

I've also read
4.3, THE LIKENESS
4.8, THE SECRET PLACE

22 July 2019

Review: NIGHT OVER WATER, Ken Follett - audio

  • Audible Audiobook
  • Listening Length: 18 hours and 41 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Macmillan Digital Audio
  • Narrator: Russell Bentley
  • Audible.com.au Release Date: 23 August 2018
Synopsis (Amazon)

Set during the outbreak of the Second World War, Night over Water is a feat of storytelling from the best-selling master of the historical thriller, Ken Follett.

On a bright September morning in 1939, two days after Britain has declared war, a group of privileged but desperate people gather in Southampton to board the largest, most luxurious airliner ever built - the Pan American Clipper, bound for New York: an English aristocrat, fleeing with his family and a fortune in jewels; a German scientist, escaping from the Nazis; a murderer under FBI escort; a young wife running away from a domineering husband; and a handsome, unscrupulous thief....

My Take

War has just been declared and there are a number of people desperate to leave England for America. The novel tells the stories of these people, and why they want to leave, in a number of plot strands. Amid these strands a crew member's wife is abducted and he is under pressure to bring the flying boat down just off the New England coast.

The tension grows as the plane approaches the American coastline, but meanwhile we have learnt a lot about this luxurious airliner, and the details feel very authentic.

There are 15 discs in the set, with each running for a little over an hour. Takes up a lot of listening time.

I could have done without the gratuitous sex which felt a bit sleazy.

My rating: 4.4

I've also read WORLD WITHOUT END (Audio CD)

19 July 2019

Review: THE DAY THE LIES BEGAN, Kylie Kaden

  • NB Book not released until August 19, 2019 - available for pre-order
  • source: Netgalley 
  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 2208 KB
  • Print Length: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Pantera Press (August 19, 2019)
  • Publication Date: August 19, 2019
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B07SMBVNDB
Synopsis  (Amazon)

‘It seemed simple at first - folding one lie over the next. She had become expert at feathering over the cracks to ensure her life appeared the same. But inside, it didn’t feel fixed.’

It happened the day of the Moon Festival. It could have been left behind, they all could have moved on with their lives. But secrets have a habit of rising to the surface, especially in small towns.

Two couples, four ironclad friendships, the perfect coastal holiday town. With salt-stung houses perched like lifeguards overlooking the shore, Lago Point is the scene of postcards, not crime scenes. Wife and mother Abbi, town cop Blake, schoolteacher Hannah and local doctor Will are caught in their own tangled webs of deceit.

When the truth washes in to their beachside community, so do the judgements: victim, or vigilante, who will forgive, who will betray? Not all relationships survive. Nor do all residents.

My take

Abbi and foster brother Blake have a secret that dominates the first half of this book. We are not sure what it is - several alternatives are on offer - but it is something they shouldn't have done, something that will devastate those close to them, and something that will destroy them both if it becomes known. But they both doubt their ability to keep it hidden.

It turns out that even though they didn't know it these families have lived with lies and secrets all their lives. Once Abbi and Blake's big secret is "out" nothing is the same.

The structure of the novel is quite confusing at the beginning and then intriguing as the setting swaps between the present and the day and night of the Moon Festival.


My rating: 4.4

About the author:
Since being plucked from the Random House slushpile, Brisbane writer Kylie Kaden is now an internationally published author of women’s fiction (when she’s not wrangling her sticky brood of boys). Kylie followed her breakthrough debut Losing Kate, with another critically acclaimed suspenseful read, Missing You, in 2015.

14 July 2019

Review: A KEEPER, Graham Norton

Synopsis (publisher)

From the bestselling author of HOLDING comes a masterly tale of secrets and ill-fated loves set on the coast of Ireland.

Dear Lonely Leinster Lady,
I'm not really sure how to begin . . .


The truth drifts out to sea, riding the waves out of sight. And then the tide turns.

Elizabeth Keane returns to Ireland after her mother's death, intent only on wrapping up that dismal part of her life. There is nothing here for her; she wonders if there ever was. The house of her childhood is stuffed full of useless things, her mother's presence already fading. And perhaps, had she not found the small stash of letters, the truth would never have come to light.

40 years earlier, a young woman stumbles from a remote stone house, the night quiet but for the tireless wind that circles her as she hurries further into the darkness away from the cliffs and the sea. She has no sense of where she is going, only that she must keep on.

This compelling new novel confirms Graham Norton's status as a fresh, literary voice, bringing his clear-eyed understanding of human nature and its darkest flaws.

My Take

When Elizabeth Keane returned to Ireland to close up her mother's house she thought she knew who she was, although her mother had been a single parent, and Elizabeth had never seen her father. Her mother had said he was dead.

But then a bundle of letters reveals a strange courtship between her mother and father and Elizabeth feels the need to visit the place where she was born.

The story is told in two main time frames, the present day and four decades earlier when her mother Patricia apparently put an advertisement in the Lonely Hearts column of a farming journal. The narration easily slips between current time and the time when the letters were written.

A very enjoyable read, on the outer edges of crime fiction.

My rating: 4.6

About the author
Graham Norton is one of the UK's best loved broadcasters. He presents The Graham Norton Show on BBC1 and has a weekly show on BBC Radio 2. He is the winner of nine BAFTA awards. Born in Dublin and raised in West Cork, Norton now lives in London.
His debut novel Holding was a commercial and critical success, winning Norton the Irish Independent Popular Fiction award at the Bord Gais Irish Book Awards in 2016.

 

Review: THE SUSPECT, Fiona Barton

  • this edition published by Penguin UK 2019
  • ISBN 978-1-787-63023-9
  • 377 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (publisher)

The New York Times bestselling author of The Widow returns with a brand new novel of twisting psychological suspense about every parent’s worst nightmare…

When two eighteen-year-old girls go missing in Thailand, their families are thrust into the international spotlight: desperate, bereft, and frantic with worry. What were the girls up to before they disappeared?

Journalist Kate Waters always does everything she can to be first to the story, first with the exclusive, first to discover the truth—and this time is no exception. But she can’t help but think of her own son, whom she hasn’t seen in two years, since he left home to go travelling.

As the case of the missing girls unfolds, they will all find that even this far away, danger can lie closer to home than you might think…

My take

It has always been Alex O'Connor's dream to travel to Thailand in a gap year after her A-levels. When her best friend Mags pulls out, her trip is in jeopardy but Rosie, a girl she walks to school with, begs to be Mags' replacement. Alex feels she doesn't know Rosie very well, but when Rosie comes through with the fare, it looks like everything will work out.

Alex's parents haven't heard from the girls for a week nearly 3 weeks after they left for Bangkok. They had been receiving regular updates from Alex and then nothing, So they decide to report it to the British police. Alex had been updating their FaceBook page every day and sending photos from her phone, and everything was great. But, unknown to them, the story that she is telling Mags by email is very different..

Kate Waters is a journalist with The Post. Her son Jake dropped out of uni and went to Phuket to "find himself" two years ago. Since then she and her husband Malcolm have hardly heard from Jake. When the story of the two missing girls lands on her desk, she understand what the parents are going through. When the opportunity comes to go to Thailand to follow the story she jumps at the chance, hoping she will also find Jake.

It never occurs to Alex's parents that what they are hearing from Alex isn't true. Every parent thinks they know their child and believes they would know what to do if things went wrong. But what if, half a world away, they see reporting problems as failure? What if the responsibility is too much?

A very good read. A parent's worst nightmare.

My rating: 4.5

I've also read: 4.8, THE WIDOW

About the author

Fiona Barton, the New York Times bestselling author of The Widow and The Child, trains and works with journalists all over the world. Previously, she was a senior writer at the Daily Mail, news editor at the Daily Telegraph, and chief reporter at the Mail on Sunday, where she won Reporter of the Year at the British Press Awards.

10 July 2019

Review: COMING HOME TO ISLAND HOUSE, Erica James

  • this edition published by Orion 2018
  • ISBN 978-1-4091-5960-5
  • 428 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

Summer 1939: After touring an unsettled Europe to promote her latest book, Romily Temple returns home to Island House and the love of her life, Jack Devereux. But when Jack falls ill, his estranged family are called to his bedside.

With war now declared, each member of the family is reluctantly forced to accept their new stepmother and confront their own shortcomings. But can Romily cope with the life that has been so unexpectedly thrust upon her?

My take

Another title that is not crime fiction.

Romily Temple, best selling crime fiction author, has recently secretly married Jack Devereaux, but while she is overseas, Jack has a stroke, and now Romily has to summon the 4 family members to his deathbed. So they arrive home at Island House to find not only that they have a stepmother they did not know existed, but eventually to discover that their father has put a very strange clause in his will.

Jack Devereaux has been estranged from his two daughters, son and female cousin for some time. Their childhoods were not happy as their mother died when they were very young and Jack did not cope, installing a series of nannies, and keeping the children at arm's length.

This was a very readable story. The terms of the will require the family to spend a week together with their stepmother in order to qualify for their inheritance. The interaction between the characters is fascinating. On the day of Jack's funeral England declares war on Germany and this gives the novel an interesting historical background. One of the daughters arrives home with a refugee child in her arms, the men of the village enlist for war, and the social climate is changed forever.

I'm sure I will read another by Erica James. There are over 20 novels to choose from, and most of the plots look interesting.

My rating: 4.6

About the author
Erica James is the author of several bestselling novels. Born Erica Sullivan, she grew up on Hayling Island in Hampshire, England and lives now with her two sons in Cheshire. She began writing after attending a creative writing course at the Arvon Foundation.

For her novel Gardens of Delight she won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award from the Romantic Novelists' Association in 2006.
Genres: General Fiction, Romance
Over 20 novels written since 1996.

9 July 2019

Review: RIVER OF SALT, Dave Warner

  • this book published by Fremantle Press 2019
  • ISBN 9-781925-591569
  • 246 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Publisher)

1961, Philadelphia. After having to give up his brother to save his own life, hitman Blake Saunders flees the Mob and seeks refuge on the other side of the world. Two years later he has been reborn in a tiny coastal Australian town. The ghosts of the past still haunt him, but otherwise Coral Shoals is paradise. Blake surfs, and plays guitar in his own bar, the Surf Shack.

But then the body of a young woman is found at a local motel, and evidence links her to the Surf Shack. When Blake’s friend is arrested, and the local sergeant doesn’t want to know, it becomes clear to Blake – who knows a thing or two about murder – that the only way to protect his paradise is to find the killer.

My Take

Blake Saunders fled to Australia, deserting his older brother Jimmy, a fact that is still raw in his mind.
He is forever alert to the fact that the Mob he escaped might still track him down and so he watches strangers with suspicion.

The novel is set in 1963, in coastal New South Wales where Blake has set up a bar which feeds off the surf culture of the remote town it is set in. He is on good terms with the local police sergeant, and they look after each other.

The quiet is disrupted when a murder takes place and city police move in to put everyone under a microscope. Blake is none too keen to have his own background investigated. At the same time two men appear, operating a "protection" racket, providing insurance against injury and arson attacks. Blake knows exactly what they are offering. The local police sergeant is not able to help much, but Blake knows he can handle this problem himself.

This was a good read, an engaging plot.

This is the first novel I have read by Dave Warner, but I'm sure it won't be the last.

My rating: 4.7

About the author
Dave Warner is an author, musician and screenwriter. His first novel City of Light won the Western Australian Premier’s Book Award for Fiction, and Before it Breaks (2015) the Ned Kelly Award for best Australian crime fiction. His latest novel Clear to the Horizon features the lead characters from both these books. Dave Warner originally came to national prominence with his gold album Mug’s Game, and his band Dave Warner's from the Suburbs. In 2017 he released his tenth album When. He has been named a Western Australian State Living Treasure and has been inducted into the WAMi Rock’n’Roll of Renown.
Awards
Ned Kelly Award for Best Crime Fiction (Longlisted 2018)
International DUBLIN Literary Award 2019 (Longlisted 2018)
Ned Kelly Award for Best Fiction (Winner 2016)
Western Australian Premier’s Book Award (Co-winner 1996)

7 July 2019

Review: THE ONLY WOMAN IN THE ROOM, Marie Benedict

  • this book published by Gale 2019
  • 400 pages
  • ISBN 978-1-4328-5790-5
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

She possessed a stunning beauty. She also possessed a stunning mind. Could the world handle both?

Her beauty almost certainly saved her from the rising Nazi party and led to marriage with an Austrian arms dealer. Underestimated in everything else, she overheard the Third Reich's plans while at her husband's side, understanding more than anyone would guess. She devised a plan to flee in disguise from their castle, and the whirlwind escape landed her in Hollywood. She became Hedy Lamarr, screen star.

But she kept a secret more shocking than her heritage or her marriage: she was a scientist. And she knew a few secrets about the enemy. She had an idea that might help the country fight the Nazis...if anyone would listen to her.

A powerful novel based on the incredible true story of the glamour icon and scientist whose groundbreaking invention revolutionized modern communication, The Only Woman in the Room is a masterpiece.

My Take

For the regular viewers of my blog - this is not crime fiction. It is fictionalised biography.

There are really two stories here: the story of Hedy Keisler, a beautiful young actress who at 19 became the wife of Austrian munitions magnate Freidrich Mandl, followed by her escape to the USA and her rebirth as Hedy Lamarr.

Freidrich Mandl was playing a dangerous game, trying to retain control of his munitions factories and contracts as Hitler moved slowly to merge Austria with Germany. Freidrich was much older than Hedy and became obsessed with controlling her as she hosted lavish parties designed to bind people to him.

When she finally escaped she emigrated to America, becoming a star of the film industry, more for her beauty than her acting ability, although she certainly had that.

But there was another side of Hedy: an acute scientific mind that had been forced to take a back seat by the roles that she played. In the long run the US miltary turned down her invention because she was a woman, but later it became part of modern electronics.

I felt that the first half of the story gave the author more to play with, while she really wanted to bring our modern debt to the "scientific mind" to our attention.

My rating: 4.1

About the author
Marie Benedict is a lawyer with more than ten years' experience as a litigator at two of the country's premier law firms. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Boston College with a focus in History and Art History, and a cum laude graduate of the Boston University School of Law. While practicing as a lawyer, Marie dreamed of a fantastical job unearthing the hidden historical stories of women -- and finally found it when she tried her hand at writing. She embarked on a new, narratively connected series of historical novels with THE OTHER EINSTEIN, which tells the tale of Albert Einstein's first wife, a physicist herself, and the role she might have played in his theories. Writing as Heather Terrell, Marie also published the historical novels The Chrysalis, The Map Thief, and Brigid of Kildare.

4 July 2019

review: RUN AWAY, Harlan Coben

  • this edition (large print) published by Grand Central Publishing 2019
  • ISBN 978-1-5387-3273-1
  • 530 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (author website)

A perfect family is shattered in RUN AWAY, the new thriller from the master of domestic suspense, Harlan Coben.

You’ve lost your daughter.

She’s addicted to drugs and to an abusive boyfriend. And she’s made it clear that she doesn’t want to be found.

Then, by chance, you see her playing guitar in Central Park. But she’s not the girl you remember. This woman is living on the edge, frightened, and clearly in trouble.

You don’t stop to think. You approach her, beg her to come home.

She runs.

And you do the only thing a parent can do: you follow her into a dark and dangerous world you never knew existed. Before you know it, both your family and your life are on the line. And in order to protect your daughter from the evils of that world, you must face them head on.

My Take

I was pleasantly surprised with the direction the plot of this novel took.

Simon Greene's search for his daughter in the drug dens of Manhattan leads to his wife Ingrid being shot and one of those they met in drug den being shot too.
As Ingrid lies in a coma in a Manhattan hospital Simon continues to search for his daughter Paige.  He is joined by ex FBI investigator Elena Ramirez who is searching for a missing man.
Between them they uncover a trail of dead men who seem to have some connection with each other, but neither can explain how Paige is linked to the trail.

Simon thought he and his wife Ingrid had no secrets from each other, but he was wrong. The reason Paige runs away stems from Ingrid's past, before Paige was born.

Very readable story.

My rating: 4.5

I've also read
4.4, CAUGHT
4.3, DON'T LET GO
4.3, NO SECOND CHANCE 

LinkWithin

Blog Widget by LinkWithin