31 December 2019

Happy New Year 2020


Review: DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS, Jo Spain

  • this edition published by Quercus 2019
  • ISBN 978-1-78747-431-4
  • 406 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (publisher)

Six neighbours, six secrets, six reasons to want Olive Collins dead.

In the exclusive gated community of Withered Vale, people's lives appear as perfect as their beautifully manicured lawns. Money, success, privilege - the residents have it all. Life is good.

There's just one problem.

Olive Collins' dead body has been rotting inside number four for the last three months. Her neighbours say they're shocked at the discovery but nobody thought to check on her when she vanished from sight.

The police start to ask questions and the seemingly flawless facade begins to crack. Because, when it comes to Olive's neighbours, it seems each of them has something to hide, something to lose and everything to gain from her death.

My Take

When it was discovered that Olive Collins had died 3 months earlier, the investigating police wanted to know why no-one had missed her.

This is a fabulously constructed novel, narrated by each of Olive's neighbours in the gated community of Withered Vale. Olive herself chips in occasionally too with accounts of the quarrels that she had with each of her neighbours.

Very enjoyable, and highly recommended.

My rating: 4.8

I've also read 4.7, THE DARKEST PLACE

30 December 2019

Review: THE MOTHER-IN-LAW, Sally Hepworth

Synopsis (Pan Macmillan)

Someone once told me that you have two families in your life - the one you are born into and the one you choose. Yes, you may get to choose your partner, but you don't choose your mother-in-law. The cackling mercenaries of fate determine it all.

From the moment Lucy met Diana, she was kept at arm's length. Diana was exquisitely polite, but Lucy knew, even after marrying Oliver, that they'd never have the closeness she'd been hoping for.

But who could fault Diana? She was a pillar of the community, an advocate for social justice, the matriarch of a loving family. Lucy had wanted so much to please her new mother-in-law.

That was ten years ago. Now, Diana has been found dead, leaving a suicide note. But the autopsy reveals evidence of suffocation. And everyone in the family is hiding something...

From the bestselling author of The Family Next Door comes a new page-turner about that trickiest of relationships.

My take

Police don't arrive on your doorstep at dinnertime unless something is wrong.

Diana's death was not unexpected - she had after all told her family that she had breast cancer but she hadn't seemed seriously ill, unless you counted the depression that she had suffered from after her husband Tom had died from MND two years earlier. So it is hard to understand why the police want to question her family so often.

Lucy's relationship with her mother-in-law has not been a comfortable one. Diana believed that her family needed to work hard for what they wanted and she was likely to refuse to give them help unless it suited her. Wealthy at the end of her life, she has worked hard herself and lived through difficult times.

The novel covers the period of about 10 years leading up to her death with glimpses into the past. There are little mysteries cleverly woven into the fabric of the story and it is really not until the end that we have the full story.

This novel is certainly enough to send me looking for another by this author. This one was on the very edge of crime fiction. The crime that has been committed takes a back seat to the issues of the relationships between Diana and her friends and family members. It seems that her other books are mainly about family issues and family ties.

My rating: 4.5

About the author

Sally Hepworth has lived around the world, spending extended periods in Singapore, the UK and Canada, where she worked in event management and human resources. She is the author of The Secrets of Midwives, The Things We Keep, The Mother's Promise and The Family Next Door.
Sally lives in Melbourne, Australia, with her husband and children. 

29 December 2019

Review: THE JEWEL THAT WAS OURS, Colin Dexter - audio book

  • format: audio book from Audible
  • Narrated by: Samuel West
  • Series: Inspector Morse Mysteries, Book 9
  • Length: 7 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 12-14-17
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Macmillan Digital Audio 
  • Book originally published 1991
Synopsis (Audible)

He looked overweight around the midriff, though nowhere else, and she wondered whether perhaps he drank too much. He looked weary, as if he had been up most of the night conducting his investigations....

For Oxford, the arrival of 27 American tourists is nothing out of the ordinary...until one of their number is found dead in Room 310 at the Randolph Hotel.

It looks like a sudden - and tragic - accident. Only Chief Inspector Morse appears not to overlook the simultaneous theft of a jewel-encrusted antique from the victim's handbag....

Then, two days later, a naked and battered corpse is dragged from the River Cherwell. A coincidence? Maybe. But this time Morse is determined to prove the link....

My take

Morse doesn't always get it right. Sometimes he gets to the point of actually charging a suspect before he realises that he's got it wrong. In fact Lewis thinks that Morse creates scenarios before he looks at the facts. But somehow he gets some elements right and then he plucks something else out of left field, and somehow it all fits.

We listen carefully, just as Lewis does, and eventually Morse persuades us.

We have really been enjoying this set of audio books narrated superbly by Samuel West.

My rating: 4.6

I've also "read"
4.3, INSPECTOR MORSE: BBB Radio Collection
4.5, THE SECRET OF ANNEXE THREE -audio book
4.6, THE WENCH IS DEAD- audio book
4.3, SERVICE OF ALL THE DEAD - audio book
4.4, LAST SEEN WEARING  - audio book
4.6, THE RIDDLE OF THE THIRD MILE - audio book  

28 December 2019

Review: THE NANNY, Gilly Macmillan

  • this edition published by Century 2019
  • ISBN 978-1-780-89984-8
  • 423 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (author)

When her beloved nanny, Hannah, left without a trace in the summer of 1988, seven-year-old Jocelyn Holt was devastated. Haunted by the loss, Jo grew up bitter and distant, and eventually left her parents and Lake Hall, their faded aristocratic home, behind.

Thirty years later, Jo returns to the house and is forced to confront her troubled relationship with her mother. But when human remains are accidentally uncovered in a lake on the estate, Jo begins to question everything she thought she knew.

Then an unexpected visitor knocks on the door and Jo’s world is destroyed again. Desperate to piece together the gaping holes in her memory, Jo must uncover who her nanny really was, why she left, and if she can trust her own mother…

In this compulsively readable tale of secrets, lies, and deception, Gilly Macmillan explores the darkest impulses and desires of the human heart. Diabolically clever, The Nanny reminds us that sometimes the truth hurts so much you’d rather hear the lie.

My Take

A very cleverly written novel with a number of narrators: Virginia, the matriarch of the family; Jo, the daughter; and then a third person who gives us the background to Hannah becoming a nanny.

The setting jumps back and forth over a period of more than three decades. There are plenty of clues about where we are in time.  The result is a complicated intertwining of plot threads. There is an almost Gothic feel to the plot.

In the long run I found the ending a bit unsatisfactory, but I will let you read it so that you can decide for yourself. It probably should have affected my rating.

My rating: 4.8

I've also read
4.5, ODD CHILD OUT

Review: THE SILENT PATIENT, Alex Michaelides

  • this edition (large print) published by Thorndike Press 2019
  • ISBN -13: 978-1-4328-5864-3
  • 483 pages
  • source: my local library
  • Amazon best book February 2019
Synopsis (Amazon)

The Silent Patient is a shocking psychological thriller of a woman’s act of violence against her husband―and of the therapist obsessed with uncovering her motive.

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations―a search for the truth that threatens to consume him....

My Take

One of the narrators in this novel is Alicia Berenson herself, with a diary that predates her husband's murder.

Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband.
They had been married for seven years. They were both artists - Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer.

The second narrator is criminal psychotherapist Theo Faber, who gets a job in the Grove, the criminal forensic unit in London where Alicia has been detained. Alicia has not spoken since Gabriel's death and Theo works on strategies to get Alicia to talk.

The novel has a most unexpected twist in the final pages, when we realise that it not only a lesson in unreliable narration, but that the author has also manipulated the time frame of the various chains of events.

My rating: 4.5

About the author
Alex Michaelides was born in Cyprus to a Greek-Cypriot father and English mother. He has a MA in English Literature from Cambridge University and a MFA in Screenwriting from the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. The Silent Patient is his first novel.

24 December 2019

23 December 2019

Review: SMOKE AND MIRRORS, Elly Griffiths

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 1993 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus (November 5, 2015)
  • Publication Date: November 5, 2015
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0118MR2UE
  • #2 in the Stephens and Mephisto series
Synopsis (author)

December 1951. It’s snowing and two children, Mark and Annie, have gone missing in Brighton. As DI Edgar Stephens leads an increasing desperate search, Max Mephisto is preparing to star in Aladdin on the end of the pier. Then the children’s bodies are found on lonely downland, surrounded by a trail of sweets. For old music hall star, Stan Parks (aka The Great Diablo), the case sparks memories of another murder before the war, when the killer was obsessed with the dark origins of pantomime. Annie used to write plays for the other children, disturbing versions of old tales. Could there be a link between the murders and these stories?

As Christmas approaches, Edgar embarks on the most difficult case of his career. Then another child vanishes. Can Edgar put the pieces of the puzzle together before it’s too late?

My Take

I've found that I haven't read THE ZIG ZAG GIRL, which is the first in this series. This is something that I must remedy as I have thoroughly enjoyed this title. I did read THE VANISHING BOX, but I think my lower rating must have reflected my unfamiliarity with the earlier titles.

This mystery is intriguing right from the start. Two children disappear playing together after school, one of them a very precocious writer who writes her own versions of fairy tales and then organises children to act them out. Her script is based on something she has worked out about her family.

Once again plenty of red herrings which characterises well written mysteries.

My rating: 4.5

I've also read
4.6, THE CROSSING PLACES
4.6, THE JANUS STONE
4.6, THE HOUSE AT SEA'S END
4.5, A ROOM FULL OF BONES
4.8, DYING FALL- audio book
4.5, THE GHOST FIELDS - audio book
4.7, THE OUTCAST DEAD - audio book
4.7, THE WOMAN IN BLUE
4.7, THE CHALK PIT
4.4, THE VANISHING BOX- #4 in the Stephens & Mephisto series
4.6, THE STRANGER DIARIES

List of the series (Fantastic Fiction)
 
Stephens and Mephisto Mystery
   1. The Zig Zag Girl (2014)
   2. Smoke and Mirrors (2015)
   3. The Blood Card (2016)
   4. The Vanishing Box (2017)
   5. Now You See Them (2019) 

18 December 2019

Review: THE GIRL WITHOUT SKIN, Mads Peder Nordbo

  • this edition published by Text Publishing 2019
  • ISBN 9781922268198
  • 356 pages
  • translated from Danish by Charlotte Barsland
Synopsis (publisher)

They were near the edge of the glacier. The sea beneath the helicopter was dense with pack ice. In front of them, the endless whiteness stretched as far as the light could reach. It hurt his eyes. Millions of white crystals. Except in one place. One spot. Right where the mummified Norseman had been found and Aqqalu had kept watch. There, the ice was glossy red.

When a mummified Viking corpse is discovered in a crevasse out on the edge of an ice sheet, journalist Matthew Cave is sent to cover the story. The next day the mummy is gone, and the body of the policeman who was keeping watch is found naked and flayed—exactly like the victims in a gruesome series of murders that terrified the remote town of Nuuk in the 1970s.

As Matt investigates, he is shocked by the deprivation and brutal violence the locals take for granted. Unable to trust the police, he begins to suspect a cover-up. It’s only when he meets a young Inuit woman, Tupaarnaq, convicted of killing her parents and two small sisters, that Matt starts to realise how deep this story goes—and how much danger he is in.

My Take

Here is your chance to be in at the beginning of a new translated Nordic crime fiction series. Matthew Cave is a Danish journalist who has moved to a new job in Nuuk in Greenland, because there are too many reminders in Denmark of what his life might have been like.

The reporting of a mummified Viking corpse, possibly over 600 years old, promises to be a story which will bring him and his camerman world wide coverage. But when the corpse disappears overnight and the policeman who was guarding it is murdered, the whole story is hushed up. It reminds one of his colleagues of a 40 year old cold case where 4 locals were murdered in the same way. Matt is asked by his editor to do some research on the events of 49 years earlier/

A satisfyingly complex novel, many plot strands, mnay red herrings.
Be warned - some gruesome bits.

My rating: 4.5

About the author
Master of arctic crime Mads Peder Nordbo has recently returned to Denmark after a long stint in Greenland, where he worked at the town hall in Nuuk. He has written six novels and been published in eighteen languages. The Girl Without Skin, also published by Text, was the first of his books to be translated into English.

17 December 2019

What I read in November 2019

November 2019
A few less books this month and my pick of the month is not crime fiction!
See what others have read

Review: I KNOW WHO YOU ARE, Alice Feeney

  • This edition published by Harper Collins Publishers 2019
  • ISBN 978-0-008-26893-0
  • 342 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Booktopia)

Aimee Sinclair: the actress everyone thinks they know but can’t remember where from. But I know exactly who you are. I know what you’ve done. And I am watching you.

When Aimee comes home and discovers her husband is missing, she doesn’t seem to know what to do or how to act. The police think she’s hiding something and they’re right, she is – but perhaps not what they thought. Aimee has a secret she’s never shared, and yet, she suspects that someone knows. As she struggles to keep her career and sanity intact, her past comes back to haunt her in ways more dangerous than she could have ever imagined.

My take

I enjoyed most of this book thoroughly. It was well constructed, the characters believable, and the plot was gripping. It is a story in two parts: that of Aimee Sinclair, very successful actress, and that of the little girl she once was, who ran away from home and was adopted by Maggie.

Aimee's husband has disappeared after an awful row the night before. She reports his disappearance to the police and then herself becomes a suspect, their suspicions confirmed when a body is found buried under her back porch. Aimee has been stalked, someone is leaving post cards "I know who you are" and there are things she doesn't want anyone to know.

What I didn't enjoy was a twist at the end when the author implements an extraordinary explanation for who the person is that has been stalking Aimee. But then there is a final twist that is brilliant.

My rating: 4.4

I've also read
4.6, SOMETIMES I LIE

15 December 2019

Review: POIROT'S EARLY CASES, Agatha Christie

Synopsis

Hercule Poirot delighted in telling people that he was probably the best detective in the world. So turning back the clock to trace eighteen of the cases which helped establish his professional reputation was always going to be a fascinating experience. With his career still in its formative years, the panache with which Hercule Poirot could solve even the most puzzling mystery is obvious. Chronicled by his friend Captain Hastings, these eighteen early cases - from theft and robbery to kidnapping and murder - were all guaranteed to test Poirot’s soon-to-be-famous ‘little grey cells’ to their absolute limit.

My Take

This title brings together 18 cases, and consisted of short stories I had mainly read in other collections. However I do not appear to have read Problem at Sea under that title.
It was originally called Poirot and the Crime in the Cabin and was not published till 1936.

The other 17 stories very largely first appeared in magazines in 1923, 1924, 1925, and 1928, 1929, and 1932. Here is a set of links in Wikipedia.
You can also find them on my list of 155 short stories
The narrator in all of the stories is Captain Hastings and between them they create a history of his connection with Poirot both before World War One and after the war.

My rating: 4.4

Check out the following

10 December 2019

Review: THE LYING ROOM, Nicci French

  • this edition published by Simon & Schuster 2019
  • ISBN 978-1-4711-7924-2
  • 417 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (publisher)

Neve Connolly looks down at a murdered man.
She doesn't call the police.


‘You know, it’s funny,’ Detective Inspector Hitching said. ‘Whoever I see, they keep saying, talk to Neve Connolly, she’ll know. She’s the one people talk to, she’s the one people confide in.

A trusted colleague and friend. A mother. A wife. Neve Connolly is all these things.
 
She has also made mistakes; some small, some unconsciously done, some large, some deliberate. She is only human, after all.
But now one mistake is spiralling out of control and Neve is bringing those around her into immense danger.
She can’t tell the truth. So how far is she prepared to go to protect those she loves?
And who does she really know? And who can she trust?
A liar. A cheat. A threat. Neve Connolly is all these things.
Could she be a murderer?


My Take

A stand-alone from Nicci French, well worth reading.

After 20 years of marriage, 3 children, one about to leave for university, Neve Connolly's life has become predictable in fact you could set your clock by her. And then she has an affair with someone who makes her feel valued and special. When she gets a message on her phone to meet as soon as possible, she doesn't question who it is from, or where to go, she just gets on her bike and leaves.

What she finds on her arrival turns her life upside down.

Neve's reaction and what she does next has the reader questioning how she/he would react in the same circumstances. We read on to find out how Neve will fare. The book is a compulsive page-turner, and readers will discover elements that they share with Neve.

My rating: 4.7

I've also read
4.3, BLUE MONDAY
4.5, TUESDAY'S GONE
4.7, WAITING FOR WEDNESDAY
4.7, FRIDAY ON MY MIND
4.4, DARK SATURDAY

9 December 2019

Review: THE RIDDLE OF THE THIRD MILE, Colin Dexter - audio book

  • format: audio from Audible
  • Narrated by: Samuel West
  • Series: Inspector Morse Mysteries, Book 6
  • Length: 6 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 10-05-17
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Macmillan Digital Audio 
Synopsis (Audible)

The thought suddenly occurred to Morse that this would be a marvellous time to murder a few of the doddery old bachelor dons. No wives to worry about their whereabouts; no landladies to whine about the unpaid rents. In fact nobody would miss most of them at all....

By the 16th of July, the Master of Lonsdale was concerned but not yet worried.

Dr Browne-Smith had passed through the porter's lodge at approximately 8:15 a.m. on the morning of Friday, 11th July. And nobody had heard from him since.

Plenty of time to disappear, thought Morse. And plenty of time, too, for someone to commit murder..

My Take

This is another cunningly constructed mystery, plenty of red herrings, so many that we lose sight of others who have disappeared, in our focus on one person. Eventually Morse gets help from a surprising quarter, which throws a very different light on his investigation.

These books are superbly read by Samuel West, and there's a literary quality to them that is rarely found in crime fiction.

My rating: 4.6

I've also read
4.3, INSPECTOR MORSE: BBB Radio Collection
4.5, THE SECRET OF ANNEXE THREE -audio book
4.6, THE WENCH IS DEAD- audio book
4.3, SERVICE OF ALL THE DEAD - audio book
4.4, LAST SEEN WEARING  - audio book

Review:A NOISE DOWNSTAIRS, Linwood Barclay

  • this edition published by Harper Collins Publishers 2018
  • ISBN 978-0-06-284564-1
  • 520 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Booktopia)

Paul Davis forgets things. Why he walked into a room. Who he spoke to, and what they said. What he promised his wife he'd do. Sometimes it's too much, and the panic takes hold.

But he wasn't always like this.

Eight months ago, Paul was attacked - left for dead after seeing something he shouldn't have - and has been piecing his life back together ever since.

During the days, therapy helps. But at night, he hears noises that no one else can. That nobody believes. Sometimes he thinks someone is in the house. Other times, the sounds are far stranger.

Either he's losing his mind - or someone wants him to think he is. Or maybe something even darker is waiting downstairs...

My Take

Before "the incident" Paul had thought his marriage had gone a bit flat, and that his wife might even be thinking of leaving him. But since he was attacked Charlotte has been very supportive. It is now 8 months on and he he seeing a therapist, battling PTSD, and depression, and is yet to return to work.

He has become anxious to understand what led his colleague to commit murder, which was what led him to attack Paul with a shovel. Central to the whole thing is a typewriter which Paul thinks is the one which his colleague owned. The typewriter is sitting in Paul's study and at night it appears to deliver messages from his colleague's victims.

A truly creepy and very readable novel.

My rating: 4.4

I've also read
NO TIME FOR GOODBYE
TOO CLOSE TO HOME
4.5, FEAR THE WORST
4.6, NEVER LOOK AWAY
5.0, TRUST YOUR EYES
4.7, NEVER SAW IT COMING
4.4, BROKEN PROMISE

2 December 2019

Review: WHAT YOU PAY FOR, Claire Askew

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2035 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (22 August 2019)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group (AU)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B07KFK9TGF
  • Shortlisted for McIlvanney and CWA Awards
  • #2 in DI Birch series
Synopsis (Amazon)

DI Helen Birch faces a terrible choice - family or justice? - in the gripping second novel from the author of All the Hidden Truths

DI Birch joined the police to find her little brother, who walked out of his life one day and was never seen again. She stayed to help others, determined to seek justice where she could.

On the fourteenth anniversary of Charlie's disappearance, Birch takes part in a raid on one of Scotland's most feared criminal organisations. It's a good day's work - a chance to get a dangerous man off the streets.

Two days later, Charlie comes back. It's not a coincidence. When Birch finds out exactly what he's been doing all those years, she faces a terrible choice: save the case, or save her brother. But how can you do the right thing when all the consequences are bad?

As she interrogates Charlie, he tells his story: of how one wrong turn leads to a world in which the normal rules no longer apply, and you do what you must to survive.

From one of the most acclaimed new voices in crime fiction, What You Pay For is a brilliantly tense and moving novel about the terrible disruption caused by violence and the lines people will cross to protect those they love.

My take

A gripping tale told alternately by two narrators - one is Helen Birch, the other is her brother Charlie.
Birch's tale is what is happening in current time, Charlie's brings us up to date with what he has been doing for the past 14 years and why he has come to her.

Birch should turn Charlie in  - he has committed more serious crimes than you can count on both hands. But she desperately wants to make sure he will be safe, but it really comes down to a choice between her career and his freedom. She can't have both.

My rating: 4.5

30 November 2019

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

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

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

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


28 November 2019

Review: THE MISSING PIECES OF SOPHIE McCARTHY, B. M. Carroll

Synopsis (publisher)

She's the victim.
But is she so innocent?


Sophie McCarthy is known for her determination, ambition and brilliance at work. She's tough, but only because she wants to get the best out of people.

Aidan Ryan is strong, honourable, and a family man. He's tough too; the army requires it.

When these two strangers are brought together in a devastating incident, Sophie's life is left in ruins. Her family wants to see Aidan pay for what he did.

Aidan's prepared to sacrifice everything - including his marriage and his child - to fix the mess he's made.

But some things can't be fixed, and Sophie is not at all what she first appeared . . . 

My Take

More a novel of mystery than crime fiction, although there are crimes: physical violence, bullying, and abduction. If I had to pick an element that I think the novel is about: it is about pain, and the effects of stress, the sort of stress created by our modern society.

Aidan and Chloe's happy family life comes to an abrupt end the day that he swerves out into the traffic without looking and smashes into Sophie McCarthy's oncoming car. Aiden and Chloe are not significantly injured but Sophie has horrific injuries. Aiden's feelings of guilt don't allow him to move on, and his stress leads to the break up of his family.

In another way this story is about the impact of something like a car crash on both sides: the person who causes it, and the person who suffers it.

We hear the story from a multitude of narrators, and sometimes see an event from numerous points of view. This seems to make it all the more mesmerising.

My rating: 4.5

About the author
Ber Carroll was born in Blarney, a small village in Ireland. The third child of six, reading was her favourite pastime (and still is!). Ber moved to Sydney in 1995 and spent her early career working in finance. Her work colleagues were speechless when she revealed that she had written a novel that was soon to be published. Ber now writes full time and is the author of eight novels, including Once Lost, Worlds Apart and Less Than Perfect. The Missing Pieces of Sophie McCarthy is her first book published under the name B M Carroll.

24 November 2019

Review: CRUEL ACTS, Jane Casey

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 1536 KB
  • Print Length: 369 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0008149038
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (April 18, 2019)
  • Publication Date: April 18, 2019
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B073YKXHHL
  • Maeve Kerrigan #8
Synopsis (Amazon)

Guilty?
A year ago, Leo Stone was convicted of murdering two women and sentenced to life in prison. Now he’s been freed on a technicality, and he’s protesting his innocence.

Not guilty?
DS Maeve Kerrigan and DI Josh Derwent are determined to put Stone back behind bars where he belongs, but the more Maeve digs, the less convinced she is that he did it.

The wrong decision could be deadly…
Then another woman disappears in similar circumstances. Is there a copycat killer, or have they been wrong about Stone from the start?

My Take

If anyone can work out whether Leo Stone is truly guilty of at least two nasty murders, it will be Maeve Kerrigan. He has been released, pending re-trial, because members of the original jury were influenced by media and internet resources. One of the things that Maeve and her boss has to do is to go through the original case to see if anything was missed.

Leo Stone is not a particularly nice person, but despite that, Maeve is finding that some of the evidence the police based their case on just doesn't add up.

I think I suffered a bit from not reading 4 of the books in this series and I was floundering a bit with details of Maeve's personal life, and how it is she comes to be living in a flat owned by her boss.

Nevertheless I have to admire her dedication to the job and her willingness to go that little bit further.
This is a tightly plotted book with some threads that give the reader plenty of food for thought.

My rating: 4.6

I've also read
4.6, THE MISSING #1
4.3, THE BURNING #2
4.5, LET THE DEAD SPEAK #7

17 November 2019

Review: LAPSE, Sarah Thornton

  • This edition published by Text Publishing 2019
  • ISBN 9-781925-773941
  • 293 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (publisher)

All it took was a lapse…a momentary lapse…to bring Clementine Jones’ world crashing down. Now she’s living like a hermit in small-town Katinga, coaching the local footy club. She’s supposed to be lying low, but here she is, with her team on the cusp of their first premiership in fifty years—and the whole bloody town counting on her, cheering her on.

So why the hell would her star player quit on the eve of the finals?

It’s a question she wishes she’d left alone. Others are starting to ask questions too—questions about her. Clem’s not the only one with a secret, and as tension builds, the dark violence just below the town’s surface threatens to erupt. Pretty soon there’ll be nowhere left for Clem to hide.

My take

This is a rare novel in Australian crime fiction: set in the Australian footy world (rural AFL) and resonating with elements footy followers are familiar with: among them an Aboriginal player who quits mid season.

Clem Jones lives on the outskirts of a small Victorian town and she has brought the local footy team from bottom last year to the brink of a premiership. Last year the team members were no-hopers and some of them still are, but she has raised their level of fitness and they walk tall in their town. Clem is very secretive about her background but the reader is given clues about where she has been.

Clancy is a vital part of her team and then he tells her he has to quit but he won't say why. At the same time he loses his job, and Clem takes it upon herself to find out why.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and look forward to the next in the series.

My rating: 4.7

About the author

Sarah cast off the lines to her law career not long after being awarded Australian Corporate Lawyer of the Year in 2016. She now lives with her husband aboard a 43-foot sailing catamaran, exploring this most magnificent blue planet and chasing an endless summer. She took up writing novels as a way to liberate her imagination after twenty years in the structured confines of legal and corporate life. Her debut novel, Lapse, is the first of a series featuring former corporate lawyer Clementine Jones.

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
4.5, A MONTH OF SUNDAYS

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
  • ASIN: B07TNHDYBG
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
4.7, SCRUBLANDS

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 -
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 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
THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT
4.8, A DARK ADAPTED EYE

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)

    THE ISLAND OF TRESCO HOLDS A DARK SECRET
    SOMEONE WILL KILL TO PROTECT.


    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
    4.4, THE PORT FAIRY MURDERS

    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
    A TEST OF WILLS -#1
    SEARCH THE DARK -#3
    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 

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