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 

New to me authors April - June 2019

About one third of the books I read are by new-to-me authors
Here are the titles for the last 3 months
  1. 3.5, THE GIRL WHO WOULDN'T DIE, Marnie Riches
  2. 4.3, LAST WORDS, Michael Koryta
  3. 4.5, THE AFTERMATH, Rhidian Brook 
  4. 4.5, CITY OF THE SUN, David Levien
  5. 4.7, THE SINGLE LADIES OF THE JACARANDA RETIREMENT VILLAGE, Joanna Nell
  6. 4.5, ALL OUR SECRETS, Jennifer Lane
  7. 4.6, THE ONE, John Marrs 
  8. 4.1, THE GASLIGHT STALKER, David Field
  9. 4.3, BRIDGE OF CLAY, Markus Zusak     

What I read in June 2019

Some good books this month
  1. 4.3, DON'T LET GO, Harlan Coben
  2. 4.5, THE COTTAGE AT ROSELLA COVE
  3. 4.3, NO SECOND CHANCE, Harlan Coben 
  4. 4.6, DEAD MAN'S LANE, Kate Ellis
  5. 4.3, A HIGH MORTALITY OF DOVES, Kate Ellis
  6. 4.3, MURDER AT THE MANOR, Martin Edwards (edit) 
  7. 4.1, THE GASLIGHT STALKER, David Field
  8. 4.7, THE BANK TELLER, Roger Monk
If you haven't read any by Adelaide author Roger Monk, give them a try. Reading them in order is recommended.

See what others have been reading.

2 July 2019

Review: BRIDGE OF CLAY, Markus Zusak

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 1025 KB
  • Print Length: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Picador Australia (October 9, 2018)
  • Publication Date: October 9, 2018
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B07BF758BG

Synopsis (Amazon)

The Dunbar boys bring each other up in a house run by their own rules. A family of ramshackle tragedy - their mother is dead, their father has fled - they love and fight, and learn to reckon with the adult world.

It is Clay, the quiet one, who will build a bridge; for his family, for his past, for his sins. He builds a bridge to transcend humanness. To survive.

A miracle and nothing less.

WINNER INDIE BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION 2019
SHORTLISTED FOR THE ABIA BOOK OF THE YEAR 2019

My Take: not crime fiction

I've found this "review" hard to write, as I don't want to destroy your pleasure in reading the book, and assembling the story  for yourself.  So you'll excuse me if  I tell you just enough to whet your appetite.

This was a "rites of passage" tale, centred around what a family goes through after the mother is diagnosed with a terminal illness, and how each member of the family copes, in their own way. After Penny's death, the father Michael finds himself unable to cope with bringing up 5 sons, and eventually deserts them leaving the eldest, Matthew, the narrator of the book, to provide the backbone of the family. There are some very challenging images and situations along the way.

But there is so much more to it than that. We leap around the stories of the family, learning what brought the parents together, and the legends that become part of the family folk lore. There are some animals that become part of the family and who could forget the mule Achilles, the first to triumphantly cross the river on the bridge?

The "bridge" element is in part actual and in part metaphorical. After 3(?) years, Michael, referred to by his sons as The Murderer, returns to visit to ask his sons to come to the country where he lives to help him build a bridge. Only one responds positively to that - Clay, the fourth son - and he becomes a principal builder of the bridge in the river bed  near his father's house, and also the rebuilding the connections in his family.

It reminded me in  many ways of work by Patrick White.

Initially I was going to read a paper copy of this title but the 544 pages were daunting and sent me scurrying to Amazon for a Kindle copy.

However, by the end of the book I felt that it was overly long and was tired of the fragmentation that the hopping backwards and forwards in time produced. I found the timeline hard to nail and really wasn't sure that I had sorted everything into the right order.
Don't let that put you off, but expect the book to be a challenge.

My rating: 4.3

About the author
Markus Zusak is the international bestselling author of six novels, including The Book Thief and most recently, Bridge of Clay. His work is translated into more than forty languages, and has spent more than a decade on the New York Times bestseller list, establishing Zusak as one of the most successful authors to come out of Australia.

All of Zusak’s books – including earlier titles, The Underdog, Fighting Ruben Wolfe, When Dogs Cry (also titled Getting the Girl), The Messenger (or I am the Messenger) – have been awarded numerous honours around the world, ranging from literary prizes to readers choice awards to prizes voted on by booksellers.

In 2013, The Book Thief was made into a major motion picture, and in 2018 was voted one of America’s all-time favourite books, achieving 14th position on the PBS Great American Read. Also in 2018, Bridge of Clay was selected as a best book of the year in publications ranging from Entertainment Weekly to the Wall Street Journal.

Markus Zusak grew up in Sydney, Australia, and still lives there with his wife and two children.

1 July 2019

New to me authors - April to June 2019

It's easy to join this meme.

Just write a post about the best new-to-you crime fiction authors (or all) you've read in the period of April to June 2019, put a link to this meme in your post, and even use the logo if you like.
The books don't necessarily need to be newly published.

 After writing your post, then come back to this post and add your link to Mr Linky below. (if Mr Linky does not appear - leave your URL in a comment and I will add to Mr Linky when it comes back up, or I'll add the link to the post)
Visit the links posted by other participants in the meme to discover even more books to read.

This meme will run throughout 2019.  Expect it to appear at the end of August
 

Pick of the Month June 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 June 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.


25 June 2019

Review: THE BANK TELLER, Roger Monk

  • this edition published by Horizon Publishing Group 2018
  • ISBN 978-1-922238-74-0
  • 361 pages
  • #3 in "Bank" series
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Amazon)

A top executive dies suddenly.
An accident?
A murder?
An inside job?
Hundreds of suited suspects in one city office.
Detective Sergeant Brian Shaw is recalled from Yorke Peninsula.
From sleepy country town to throbbing city throngs,
clashing personalities, old scores to be settled, frustrated ambitions, jealousies, and something new:  female tellers.
A hotbed of suspicions from managing director to tea lady.
And who started the rumour that one of the tellers may be involved?
Why?  Who?
Know why and you may know who!

My Take

This is #3 in the series based in Adelaide around 1950, focussed around Detective Brian Shaw. A real treat for South Australian readers in particular, but really for all who reflect on how things have changed in the last seven decades.

The novel is a delightful mix of fact and fiction. During the second World War women were allowed to take on the role of tellers in various banks and some were so good at it that they remained in place after the men returned from the services.The fictional Great Southern Bank has branches not only in South Australia but in most of the eastern states. It's Managers and tellers have been moved around from city to country and vice versa and many are fiercely loyal to the bank.

Like many of its competitors the GSB has been looking for that investment that will give it "the edge" and, as a result, now has a problem that, so far, only its Board is aware of.

A beautifully written, quite complex, story which starts with a murder when the General Manager, Staff, is literally booted down the grand marble staircase and dies as a consequence.

Detective Brian Shaw, who has had dealings with the GSB in the past, is brought back to Adelaide from Yorke Peninsular to solve the puzzle.  And within days there is a second murder.

A highly recommended read.

My rating: 4.7

I also recommend
4.8, THE BANK INSPECTOR #1
4.8, THE BANK MANAGER #2 

23 June 2019

Review: THE GASLIGHT STALKER: Nobody is safe in Whitechapel

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 2738 KB
  • Print Length: 208 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Sapere Books (March 1, 2018)
  • Publication Date: March 1, 2018
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B077Y435Q3
  • Esther & Jack Enright Mystery Book 1
Synopsis (Amazon)

Jack the Ripper is stalking the streets of London. Can anyone stop the serial killer before more women are murdered?

London, 1888

Whitechapel is full of the noise of August Bank Holiday celebrations. Everyone is in high spirits until a woman – Martha Turner – is discovered brutally murdered.

Her friend, Esther, a lowly seamstress turned female sleuth, is determined to find the killer.

A young police officer, Jack Enright, takes the lead on the case, and he and Esther soon embark on a professional – and personal – relationship.

When another murder is committed and whispers of a slasher calling himself Jack the Ripper start flowing through the London streets, the search becomes even more desperate.

The police are on the wrong track and the young couple take matters into their own hands, and soon find themselves navigating through London’s dark underbelly.

Can they find the murderer before he kills again? Will anyone listen to their suspicions?

Or will this dark presence continue to haunt Whitechapel…?

My Take

This story offers an alternative solution to the question of the identity of Jack the Ripper. Prostitutes are being murdered and their ravaged bodies left on the streets of London. The timeline of the events in the novel follows the records we have, although the solution takes place in the months after the last death.

It is set against the background of a budding romance between a young police detective and a seamstress.

According to Amazon, this is the first of a series of 8 novels, a new detective partnership.

My rating: 4.1

About the author
David was born in post-war Nottingham, and educated at Nottingham High School. After obtaining a Law degree he became a career-long criminal law practitioner and academic, emigrating in 1989 to Australia, where he still lives.

Combining his two great loves of History and the English language he began writing historical novels as an escape from the realities of life in the criminal law, but did not begin to publish them until close to fulltime retirement, when digital publishing offered a viable alternative to literary agencies, print publishers and rejection slips.

Now blessed with all the time in the world, his former hobby has become a fulltime occupation as he enjoys life in rural New South Wales with his wife, sons and grandchildren to keep him firmly grounded in the reality of the contemporary world.

20 June 2019

Review: MURDER AT THE MANOR, Martin Edwards (edit)

  • this edition published by Poisoned Pen Press 2016
  • ISBN 978-1-4642-0673-6
  • 376 pages
  • subtitled: Country House Mysteries
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

The English country house is an iconic setting for some of the greatest British crime fiction. This collection gathers together stories written over a span of about 65 years, during which British society, and life in country houses, was transformed out of all recognition.

 It includes fascinating and unfamiliar twists on the classic 'closed circle' plot, in which the assorted guests at a country house party become suspects when a crime is committed. In the more sinister tales featured here, a gloomy mansion set in lonely grounds offers an eerie backdrop for dark deeds. Many distinguished writers are represented in this collection, including such great names of the genre as Anthony Berkeley, Nicholas Blake and G.K. Chesterton.

Martin Edwards has also unearthed hidden gems and forgotten masterpieces: among them are a fine send-up of the country house murder; a suspenseful tale by the unaccountably neglected Ethel Lina White; and a story by the little-known Scottish writer J.J. Bell.

My Take

This anthology contains 16 short stories, some written by masters of the genre and others by less well known. I never cease to be amazed at how many people were writing crime fiction in England in the period covered by this anthology.

Short story collections are among my favourites as they offer the prospect of quick delving, of a variety of approaches. Each of the stories in this collection relates somehow to a crime, often murder,  committed at a country house. They also offer an interesting insight into a period of English life where society rapidly changed because of the advent of World War One.

I was surprised however that the editor - and there was probably good reason for it - allowed this volume to go to press without page numbers on the Table of Contents, and without the short story titles being repeated in the top margins of the printed pages.

My rating: 4.3

I've also read
MYSTERIOUS PLEASURES
THE ARSENIC LABYRINTH
THE SERPENT POOL
WATERLOO SUNSET
DANCING FOR THE HANGMAN
4.8, THE HANGING WOOD
4.6, THE FROZEN SHROUD
4.5, M.O. CRIMES OF PRACTICE (edit)
4.3, TAKE MY BREATH AWAY
4.3, SERPENTS IN EDEN (edit)
4.5, MOTIVES FOR MURDER(edit)
4.5, GALLOWS COURT 

13 June 2019

Review: A HIGH MORTALITY OF DOVES, Kate Ellis

  • this edition published by the Ulverscroft Foundation 2016
  • ISBN 978-1-4448-3958-6
  • 384 pages
  • source: my local library
  • #1 in the Albert Lincoln series
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

It's 1919. The Derbyshire village of Wenfield is still coming to terms with the loss of so many of its sons when the brutal murder of a young girl shatters its hard-won tranquility. Myrtle Bligh is found stabbed, her mouth slit to accommodate a dead dove. During the war Myrtle volunteered as a nurse, working at the nearby big house, Tarnhey Court. When two more women are found murdered, Inspector Albert Lincoln is sent up from London. Albert begins to investigate, and the Cartwright family of Tarnhey Court and their staff fall under suspicion. With rumours of a ghostly soldier, the village is thrown into a state of panic - and with the killer still on the loose, who will be next?

My Take

A murder mystery set in the aftermath of World War One, in a village very much mourning it's dead. Among the victims is a nurse volunteer and a local gossip who runs a tea shop. They are lured to their deaths by malicious notes and are murdered in a local wood.

The story is told from the point of view mainly of Flora Winsome, also a nurse volunteer and the daughter of one of the local doctors.

When the local policeman makes no headway a detective is called in from Scotland Yard, but he too has been damaged by the war.

The influenza epidemic is beginning to hit the village, and so there are a number of factors giving a historical flavour to this police procedural, not the least the ghostly figure of a soldier. The identity of the murderer came as a surprise in the last pages, and I am not sure that the author gave us enough clues.

My rating: 4.3

I've also read
4.4, AN UNHALLOWED GRAVE
4.6, DEAD MAN'S LANE


10 June 2019

Review: DEAD MAN'S LANE, Kate Ellis

  • this edition published by Piatkus 2019
  • ISBN 978-0-349-41829-2
  • 388 pages
  • source: my local library
  • #23 in the Wesley Peterson series
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

Strangefields Farm is notorious for its sinister history ever since serial killer Jackson Temples lured young women to the premises, and the girls never left alive.

Now, decades later, Strangefields is being transformed into a holiday village, but the developer's hopes of its dark past being forgotten are ruined when a skull is found on the site. Police suspect it belongs to one of Temples' victims, and when a local florist is found murdered in an echo of Temples' crimes, DI Wesley Peterson fears a copycat killer could be at large.

My Take

Wesley Peterson's boss Gerry was on the investigation that saw the conviction of Jackson Temples for the death of a number of young women. However one of the young victims was never found and Jackson Temples has throughout his imprisonment always refused to confess his guilt. Now a skull has turned up. Could it be from the missing body?

And two people are now claiming to have seen people they thought were dead.

The strands of this plot are cleverly interwoven with a journal begun in 1666, which among other things, describes the steps taken to stop the dead from rising. I like the interweaving of archaeological considerations with the main story. A very good read.

I have read far too few titles by this author.

My rating: 4.6

I've also read

4.4, AN UNHALLOWED GRAVE

Review: NO SECOND CHANCE, Harlan Coben - audio book

  • this audio book produced by Penguin Audio
  • Original novel published 2003
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

No Second Chance is yet another of Harlan Coben's terrifying explorations of the worst of fears--Marc Seidman wakes in hospital after narrowly surviving a shooting in which his wife died and their baby daughter went missing.

The handover of a ransom from his rich in-laws goes wrong and Seidman realises that he is not only without wife and daughter--and the sister who may have been an accomplice--but he is also the principal suspect. The reader knows even more than Seidman just how much jeopardy he is in--Coben does a brilliantly disturbing job of introducing us to a pair of psychotics who are in charge of the ransom plot and who plan to take Seidman and his in-laws for another ride into insecurity and hell.

Marc turns to the one person he thinks can help him--the ex-girlfriend who still has a place in his heart and used to be a senior Federal agent. The problem is that Rachel comes with baggage, and enemies, all of her own..

My Take


This plot felt a bit as if Coben had two strands in mind: one where a child is abducted during a home invasion, and the other an adoption scam where illegal immigrants give birth to babies who are found "good homes".

The final truth of the connection between the two strands was horrifying.

One of the problems with this story was that I didn't particularly like Marc Seidman the main character. I found him self-opinionated, always sure he was right, and blind to alternatives.

My rating: 4.3

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

6 June 2019

Review: THE COTTAGE AT ROSELLA COVE, Sandie Docker

  • this edition published by Penguin Random House Australia 2019
  • ISBN 978-0-14-378921-5
  • 343 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (author website)

Welcome to the place of new beginnings…
Why had the house stayed empty so long?  Why had it never been sold?

LOST

Nicole has left her city life for the sleepy town of Rosella Cove, renting the old cottage by the water. She plans to keep to herself – but when she uncovers a hidden box of wartime love letters, she realises she’s not the  first person living in this cottage to hide secrets and pain.

FOUND

Ivy’s quiet life in Rosella Cove is tainted by the events of World War II, with ramifications felt for many years to come. But one night a drifter appears and changes everything. Perhaps his is the soul she’s meant to save.

FORGOTTEN

Charlie is too afraid of his past to form any lasting ties in the cove.  He knows he must make amends for his tragic deeds long ago, but he  can’t do it alone. Maybe the new tenant in the cottage will help him  fulfil a promise and find the redemption he isn’t sure he deserves.

Welcome to the cottage at Rosella Cove, where three damaged souls meet and have the chance to rewrite their futures.

My Take

A mystery but not crime fiction.

After I had so enjoyed THE KOOKABURRA CREEK CAFE I determined to read Sandie Docker's second book and it did not disappoint.

Three stories come together and the reader finds the connections between them and the events that have brought their lives together.

A very enjoyable read.

My rating: 4.5

I've also read
4.4, THE KOOKABURRA CREEK CAFE

2 June 2019

Review: DON'T LET GO, Harlan Coben

  • this edition published 2017 by Penguin Random House
  • ISBN 978-1-78-089423-2
  • 347 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis

With unmatched suspense and emotional insight, Harlan Coben explores the big secrets and little lies that can destroy a relationship, a family, and even a town in this powerful new thriller.

Suburban New Jersey Detective Napoleon “Nap” Dumas hasn't been the same since senior year of high school, when his twin brother Leo and Leo’s girlfriend Diana were found dead on the railroad tracks—and Maura, the girl Nap considered the love of his life, broke up with him and disappeared without explanation. For fifteen years, Nap has been searching, both for Maura and for the real reason behind his brother's death. And now, it looks as though he may finally find what he's been looking for.

When Maura's fingerprints turn up in the rental car of a suspected murderer, Nap embarks on a quest for answers that only leads to more questions—about the woman he loved, about the childhood friends he thought he knew, about the abandoned military base near where he grew up, and mostly about Leo and Diana—whose deaths are darker and far more sinister than Nap ever dared imagine.

My Take

Nap Dumas still lives in the town where he was born and where his twin brother died 15 years ago. He has never believed that his brother and his girlfriend, the daughter of the town's police chief, walked into the path of the train.

Finding out the truth is one of the reasons why he became a detective himself. But now his own girlfriend of 15 years ago has resurfaced and another policeman has been killed. Why has Maura come back and why are members of the high school Conspiracy Club being killed off?

A thriller that keeps you reading to find the truth.

My rating: 4.3

I've also read
4.4, CAUGHT

1 June 2019

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

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

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

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


30 May 2019

Review: DEADLY SECRETS, Robert Bryndza

  • this edition published by Bookouture, 2018
  • ISBN 9-781786-814289
  • 325 pages
  • source: my local library
  • series: Erika Foster #6
Synopsis (author website)

To commit the perfect murder, you need the perfect cover.

On a cold icy morning, a mother wakes to find her daughter’s blood-soaked body frozen to the road. Who would carry out such a horrific killing on the victim’s doorstep?

Straight off her last harrowing case, Detective Erika Foster is feeling fragile but determined to lead the investigation. As she sets to work, she finds reports of assaults in the same quiet South London suburb where the woman was killed. One chilling detail links them to the murder victim – they were all attacked by a figure in black wearing a gas mask.

Erika is on the hunt for a killer with a terrifying calling card. The case gets more complicated when she uncovers a tangled web of secrets surrounding the death of the beautiful young woman.

Yet just as Erika begins to piece the clues together, she is forced to confront painful memories of her past. Erika must dig deep, stay focused and find the killer. Only this time, one of her own is in terrible danger…

My Take

Another chilling read in this series.

Not long after the resolution of her previous case, Erika Foster is on her way for Christmas lunch. She hears a radio message about a body being found not far from her house. She knows that most staff have been given holiday leave and so she decides to attend the scene herself.

The opening episode of the book is set on Christmas Eve when the victim alights from the train near her home and meets some neighbours, The wife is abusive and her husband hurries her off and the girl resumes her journey home. She has her key in the front door when she is attacked and killed in a frenzy of stabbing.

The next morning her mother, who has heard nothing during the night, discovers the body on the front step, and then Erika Foster's team begin their investigation with house to house questioning.  Every person they speak to has a different opinion of the young woman, and many of the neighbours are not complimentary. Then CCTV footage reveals the details of  the attack and the fact that someone whom they have already interviewed has not told the truth.

As the book proceeds the plot gets increasingly complex but at the same time intriguing. I thought I had the murderer picked early on, but once again I was wrong.

This author was one that I "discovered" last year and really worth the effort locating. The series has good character development and I suggest you attempt to read them in order.

My rating: 4.6

I've also read
4.8, THE GIRL IN THE ICE #1
4.8, THE NIGHT STALKER #2
4.6, DARK WATER #3
4.8, LAST BREATH #4
4.7, COLD BLOOD  #5  

Review: THE ONE, John Marrs

  • this edition published by Del Rey 2016
  • ISBN 978-1-79-503605-7
  • 405 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (author website)

One simple mouth swab is all it takes. A quick DNA test to find your perfect partner – the one you’re genetically made for.

A decade after scientists discover everyone has a gene they share with just one other person, millions have taken the test, desperate to find true love. Now, five more people meet their Match. But even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking – and deadlier – than others...

My Take

Match your DNA purports to be the world's first scientifically proven test 100%  guaranteed to match a person with the one and only person you're genetically designed to fall in love with.
The DNA test is free and, once a match is found, then for a simple one-off fee applicants get information that allows them to contact their Match. There are no guarantees about the character of even gender of the Match. Contact is usually by email, but some couples take the plunge and use the phone to set up a date.

This story follows 5 couples who are sent details of their Match. Details can be confirmed from FaceBook pages and in each scenario one of the people contacts their Match.

In some cases the person has family members who has already participated in the DNA testing and has discovered, even married, their Match. They see the scheme as a way of cutting short the tedium of dating and looking for the One, the person of their dreams. But what if the person has lied about themselves, or there is some other reason why the Match will not work?

An intriguing and engrossing read.

My rating: 4.6


About the author
John Marrs is a freelance journalist based in London, England, who has spent the last 20 years interviewing celebrities from the world of television, film and music for national newspapers and magazines.
THE ONE is his third title.

26 May 2019

Review: DEAD OF NIGHT, Michael Stanley

  • this edition published by Orenda Books 2018
  • ISBN 978-1-912374-25-0
  • 310 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

When freelance journalist, Crystal Nguyen, heads to South Africa, she thinks she'll be researching an article on rhino-horn smuggling for National Geographic, while searching for her missing colleague. But within a week, she's been hunting poachers, hunted by their bosses, and then arrested in connection with a murder. And everyone is after a briefcase full of money that may hold the key to everything...

Fleeing South Africa, she goes undercover in Vietnam, trying to discover the truth before she's exposed by the local mafia. Discovering the plot behind the money is only half the battle. Now she must convince the South African authorities to take action before it's too late. She has a shocking story to tell, if she survives long enough to tell it...

Fast-paced, relevant and chilling, Dead of Night is a stunning new thriller that exposes one of the most vicious conflicts on the African continent...

My Take

Writing duo Michael Stanley have ventured into relatively uncharted waters with a stand alone novel grounded in their extensive knowledge of South Africa and its problems.

Rhino horn smuggling is rife in South Africa, with poachers killing an estimated 100 rhinos per month, bringing black rhino to the point of extinction. See more.

So the setting of this novel is very topical and the issues are well described.

Freelance journalist Crystal Nguyen is a very impetuous young lady who gets away with amazingly daring deeds. I'm not sure  she will feature again in the novels of Michael Stanley (I personally favour more Kubu novels), but this one was very readable, and I feel I have more understanding now of what is going on.

My rating: 4.4 

I've also reviewed
5.0, A CARRION DEATH
4.8, THE SECOND DEATH OF GOODLUCK TINUBU
5.0, DEATH OF THE MANTIS
5.0, DEADLY HARVEST
4.5, DETECTIVE KUBU INVESTIGATES: a collection of short stories
4.7, A DEATH IN THE FAMILY

24 May 2019

Review: ALL OUR SECRETS, Jennifer Lane

Synopsis (publisher)

A girl called Gracie.

A small town called Coongahoola with the dark Bagooli River running through it.

The Bleeders — hundreds of ‘Believers’ who set up on the banks of the river, who start to buy up the town and win souls.

The River Children
— born in the aftermath of the infamous River Picnic. They begin to go missing, one after another.

Gracie Barrett is the naively savvy spokesperson for her chaotic family (promiscuous dad, angry mum, twins Lucky and Grub, Elijah the River Child and fervent, prayerful Grandma Bett), for the kids who are taken, for the lurking fear that locks down the town and puts everyone under suspicion.

Gracie is funny and kind, bullied and anguished, and her life spirals out of control when she discovers she knows what no one else does: who is responsible for the missing children.

Coongahoola is where hope and fear collide, where tender adolescence is confronted by death, where kindness is a glimmer of light in the dark.

My Take

Gracie Barrett, the central figure in this novel, reminded me a lot of Scout Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird. In fact at one stage Gracie is reading the book. In some senses Gracie has a wisdom beyond her years, and in other ways she is naive in her acceptance of what is happening in the adult world. There is a deceptive complexity to this plot.

The first mystery to solve is what actually happened on the night of the River Picnic. And then, as the River Children born in its aftermath, begin to go missing and are then are discovered murdered, what is the thread that connects them? Why are these murders happening, what has triggered them after 8 years?

The town of Coongahoola is divided with the arrival of Saint Bede and his followers, and the followers become easy scapegoats to blame for the murders. Gracie is particularly affected when he mother and father breakup, her mother leaves home, and is then chosen by Saint Bede to be his 4th wife. Through all Grandma Bett provides much needed stability, but still the murders happen.

And then Gracie unwittingly identifies the murderer.

Have you ever wondered what would have happened if Boo Radley had been bad?

My rating: 4.5

In 1995, doubled over under the enormous weight of her backpack (lugging a 10kg laptop among other things), Jennifer Lane left Australia to satisfy her curiosity about the rest of the world – and to fulfil her dream of writing a novel. Twenty-two years, one husband and two daughters later, her mum has finally given up asking when she’s coming home.

For two decades now, Jennifer has lived in Wellington, New Zealand with the aforementioned family. She was a winner of New Zealand Book Month’s Six Pack 2 writing competition in 2007 and her short stories have appeared in publications on both sides of the Tasman, including Southerly and Island.

It took a little longer than she planned, but ALL OUR SECRETS is her first novel.

Her website and blog are at: jenniferlane.co.nz

19 May 2019

Review: WHERE THE DEAD LAY, David Levien

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Take

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

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

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

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

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

My rating: 4.5

I've also read
4.5, CITY OF THE SUN

17 May 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Take

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

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

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

My Rating: 4.7

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

13 May 2019

Review: CITY OF THE SUN, David Levien

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

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

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

My Take

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

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

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

My rating: 4.5

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

11 May 2019

Review: HIDDEN KILLERS, Lynda La Plante

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

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

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

My Take

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

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

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

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

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

My rating: 4.6

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

5 May 2019

Review: THE AFTERMATH, Rhidian Brook

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

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

My take

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

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

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

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

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

My rating: 4.5

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

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

1 May 2019

What I read in April 2019

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

See what others have chosen for their Pick of the Month

Pick of the Month April 2019

Crime Fiction Pick of the Month 2019
Many crime fiction bloggers write a summary post at the end of each month listing what they've read, and some, like me, even go as far as naming their pick of the month.

This meme is an attempt to aggregate those summary posts.
It is an invitation to you to write your own summary post for April 2019, identify your crime fiction best read of the month, and add your post's URL to the Mr Linky below.
If Mr Linky does not appear for you, leave the URL in a comment and I will add it myself.

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

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

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


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