31 March 2020

New to Me Authors read January-March 2020

I've read 37 books in the first 3 months of 2020, and 11 of those were "new-to-me" authors.

If you'd like to tell me what you've read, please leave the titles in a comment.
  1. 4.3, BROKEN BONE CHINA, Laura Childs
  2. 4.7, LOCK EVERY DOOR, Riley Sager
  3. 4.5, WHO KILLED RUBY? Camilla Way
  4. 4.3, SIX MINUTES, Petronella McGovern  
  5. 4.4, EYES LIKE MINE, Sheena Kamal
  6. 4.4, LONG TIME LOST, Chris Ewan
  7. 4.8, THE VAN APFEL GIRLS ARE GONE, Felicity McLean  - Australian
  8. 4.5, DEAD MAN SWITCH, Tara Moss
  9. 4.5, THE LOST GIRLS, Jennifer Spence - Australian
  10. 4.5, THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ, Heather Morris - Australian author
  11. 4.4, THE AU PAIR, Emma Rous

Review: BLOOD RIVER, Tony Cavanaugh

  • Format: Kindle Edition (Amazon)
  • File Size: 951 KB
  • Print Length: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Hachette Australia; Digital original edition (23 April 2019)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group (AU)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B07KPKB63Q
Synopsis  (Amazon)

Brisbane 1999. It's hot. Stormy. Dangerous. The waters of the Brisbane River are rising.
The rains won't stop. People's nerves are on edge. And then...
A body is found.
And then another.
And another.
A string of seemingly ritualized but gruesome murders. All the victims are men. Affluent. Guys with nice houses, wives and kids at private schools. All have had their throats cut.
Tabloid headlines shout, THE VAMPIRE KILLER STRIKES AGAIN!

Detective Sergeant Lara Ocean knows the look. The 'my-life-will-never-be-the-same-again look'. She's seen it too many times on too many faces. Telling a wife her husband won't be coming home. Ever again. Telling her the brutal way he was murdered. That's a look you never get used to.

Telling a mother you need her daughter to come to the station for questioning. That's another look she doesn't want to see again.

And looking into the eyes of a killer, yet doubting you've got it right. That's the worst look of all - the one you see in the mirror. Get it right, you're a hero and the city is a safer place. Get it wrong and you destroy a life. And a killer remains free. Twenty years down the track, Lara Ocean will know the truth.

My take

I thought this was such a cleverly constructed novel with themes that resonated in the Australian setting: Queensland weather, rise of the Brisbane river and flooding of the city, corruption in the Queensland police force, corruption in government, the glass ceiling both for women and for women of mixed race.

A culture of corruption leads to the decision to look for a quick resolution and conviction in the Vampire Slayer case. The story begins on the eve of 2YK, with 3 seemingly ritualised killings of middle-aged men, and the tracking down of the killer on the basis of what other teenagers and her teacher said about her. The culprit is quickly brought to trial, and sentenced to life amid public jubilation.

The plot directions often took me by surprise. I certainly hadn't expected the plot to cover 20 years, nor had I expected Billy Waterson to become essentially a "reformed" character. I thought it got under the skin of the main characters, and it kept my interest throughout.

My rating: 4.8

I have previously read
4.3, PROMISE, Tony Cavanaugh

Review: DARKNESS FOR LIGHT, Emma Viskic

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 4347 KB
  • Print Length: 213 pages
  • Publisher: Echo (2 December 2019)
  • Sold by: Amazon Australia Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0821FDXFL
  • #3 in the Caleb Zilic series
Synopsis  (Amazon)

The third thrilling instalment in the award-winning Caleb Zelic series. After a lifetime of bad decisions troubled PI Caleb Zelic is finally making good ones. He's in therapy, reconnecting with the Deaf community, and reconciling with his beloved wife.

But he can't escape his past.

A violent confrontation forces Caleb back into contact with his double-crossing partner, Frankie. When her niece is kidnapped, Frankie and Caleb must work together to save the child's life. But their efforts will risk everything, including their own lives.

My Take

This must have been just a bit too noir for my tastes, but I just found it a bit of a slog.

I don't actually warm to the central character Caleb Zelic, nor to many of the central characters he works with.

There is a lot of background material where I feel I have missed out on the full story, and that was actually how I felt when I read the previous title in the series.

The rating I gave it reflects the way I felt about the book, but others readers may well rate it more highly.

My Rating: 4.2

I've already  read
4.3, RESURRECTION BAY
4.3, AND FIRE CAME DOWN
 

Review: A MATTER OF MOTIVE, Margot Kinberg

  • Format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 4353 KB
  • Print Length: 235 pagesPublisher: Grey Cells Press (March 16, 2020)
  • Publication Date: March 16, 2020
  • Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B081TLQMX5
Synopsis (Amazon)

A man is dead in his car, slumped over the steering wheel. But who killed him? Ron Clemons is the last person you’d think would be murdered. His wife and son love him. His employees respect him. His business is doing well. His clients seek him out. But someone wanted him dead.

The Clemons case is a golden opportunity for newly minted police detective Patricia Stanley to prove herself. It’s her first murder investigation, and she wants to do well. But it’s not going to be easy. For one thing, she has plenty to learn about handling a murder. And nearly everyone involved in this one is hiding something. Patricia faces her own challenges, too, as the investigation brings back the murder of an old love.
 
My Take

A police procedural with two rookie detectives being trained in acceptable techniques by their new boss. The book title poses the question that the reader asks constantly: who profited by the death from digitoxin poisoning of Ron Clemons, successful publicist? I must confess that I solved the "who" about half way through the book, bit was a little astray on the "why".

It was a satisfyingly complex plot though, and it kept me engaged.
Apparently the beginning of a new series, and I look forward to the next.

My rating: 4.4

I've also read
PUBLISH OR PERISH
4.5, B - VERY FLAT
4.3, IN A WORD: MURDER  (edit)
4.4, PAST TENSE
4.5, DOWNFALL

Review: THE AU PAIR, Emma Rous

  • Format: Kindle Edition (Amazon)
  • File Size: 505 KB
  • Print Length: 386 pages
  • Publisher: Piatkus (6 December 2018)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group (AU)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B07DNDJ7SH
  • author website
Synopsis (Amazon)

Seraphine Mayes and her brother Danny are the first set of twins to be born at Summerbourne House. But on the day they were born their mother threw herself to her death, their au pair fled, and the village thrilled with whispers of a stolen baby.

Now twenty-five, and mourning the recent death of her father, Seraphine uncovers a family photograph taken on the day the twins were born featuring both parents posing with just one baby. Seraphine soon becomes fixated with the notion that she and Danny might not be twins after all, that she wasn't the baby born that day and that there was more to her mother's death than she has ever been told...

Why did their beloved au pair flee that day?
Where is she now?
Does she hold the key to what really happened? 

My take

Seraphine and Danny's father has recently died from falling off a ladder and now who will inherit Summerbourne House hangs in the balance. The decision is in the hands of Vera, Seraphine's maternal grandmother.

In her father's possessions Seraphine finds a photo of her mother holding a baby, looking happy, just hours before she jumped over the cliff to her death. But which baby is it? Why is there only one baby in the photo?  Seraphine and Danny are twins although she was born first.

Seraphine is gripped with a passion to know who she really is. Is she the baby in the photo? She needs to find the au pair who was there at her birth. But someone does not want her to find out the truth.

An interesting read but I think the author was confronted with an almost impossible problem at the end which I am not sure she resolved all that well.

My rating: 4.4

About the author
Emma grew up in England, Indonesia, Kuwait, Portugal and Fiji, and from a young age she had two ambitions: to write stories, and to look after animals. She studied veterinary medicine and zoology at the University of Cambridge, then worked as a small animal veterinary surgeon for eighteen years before switching to full time writing in 2016. Emma lives in Cambridgeshire, England, with her husband and three sons.

The Au Pair is her first novel. It will be published in ten countries, in nine languages. She is currently writing her second book.

30 March 2020

Review: GONE BY MIDNIGHT, Candice Fox

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 925 KB
  • Print Length: 353 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Australia (January 22, 2019)
  • Publication Date: January 22, 2019
  • Sold by: RH AU
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B07GVNBG51
  • #3 in the Crimson Lake series
Synopsis  (Amazon)

Crimson Lake is where bad people come to disappear – and where eight-year-old boys vanish into thin air . . .

On the fifth floor of the White Caps Hotel, four young friends are left alone while their parents dine downstairs. But when Sara Farrow checks on the children at midnight, her son is missing. The boys swear they stayed in their room, and CCTV confirms Richie has not left the building. Despite a thorough search, no trace of the child is found.

Distrustful of the police, Sara turns to Crimson Lake's unlikeliest private investigators: disgraced cop Ted Conkaffey and convicted killer Amanda Pharrell. This case just the sort of twisted puzzle that gets Amanda's blood pumping.

For Ted, the case couldn’t have come at a worse time. Two years ago a false accusation robbed him of his career, his reputation and most importantly his family. But now Lillian, the daughter he barely knows, is coming to stay in his ramshackle cottage by the lake.

Ted must dredge up the area's worst characters to find a missing boy. And the kind of danger he uncovers could well put his own child in deadly peril .

My Take

Set in Cairns. An 8 year old boy goes missing from the fifth floor of a hotel. He has been in the company of friends while his mother dines with their parents downstairs.

The mother asks Ted Conkaffey to investigate her son's disappearance. The local police are opposed as his partner Amanda Pharrel was responsible for the death of one of their colleagues in their last case.

Days pass and the boy is not found until Ted and Amanada uncover the shocking truth.

Good reading but it would probably help if you had read the two previous books in the series.

My rating: 4.5

I've also read
5.0, HADES 
4.3, EDEN
4.6, CRIMSON LAKE  (#1)
4.7 REDEMPTION POINT (#2)

Review: THE LONG CALL, Ann Cleeves

Synopsis (publisher)

The Long Call is the latest novel from Ann Cleeves, and the first in the new crime fiction series, Two Rivers, which has been eagerly awaited by fans of her bestselling Shetland and Vera Stanhope series. Here, Ann introduces Detective Matthew Venn and tells us about the inspiration behind Two Rivers.

Set in North Devon, where the rivers Taw and Torridge meet, Two Rivers is the new detective series from Ann Cleeves, the author of the Shetland and Vera Stanhope series which both inspired hugely popular television adaptations. When Detective Matthew Venn turned his back on the strict religious community he grew up in, he lost his family too. Now he’s back.

The first book in the series, The Long Call, sees Matthew return to the Two Rivers region as his father’s funeral takes place, not only to mourn him from afar but to take on his first major case in the area. A man has been found stabbed to death on a beach near to Matthew’s new home, and his team’s investigation leads straight to the heart of the community he left behind, all those years ago.

The Long Call has already been optioned for TV by Silverprint Pictures, the company which produced Shetland and Vera.

My take

Set in North Devon near Barnstaple with a new detective Matthew Venn, married to Jonathon Church who has set up and manages The Woodyard, a centre offering, among other things, learning disability services.

The body found on the beach is identified as an ex-soldier who has been volunteering in the kitchen at the centre.

The novel opens with Matthew Venn watching his father's funeral from a distance, long estranged from his parents when he chose to leave the Brethren in his first year at university.

This new series has given Ann Cleeves scope to create interesting new characters and different settings.

So there is a lot of background to learn, a new police investigative team, and then some interesting plot threads.

A good read.

I have followed Ann Cleeves since first reading the first novels in the Shetland series, and then meeting Vera Stanhope. I look forward to reading the second in this new series.

My rating: 4.6

I've also read
mini-review RAVEN BLACK - Shetland #1
WHITE NIGHTS - Shetland#2
RED BONES - Shetland #3
5.0, BLUE LIGHTNING - Shetland#4
5.0, DEAD WATER  - Shetland#5
4.6, THIN AIR - Shetland #6
4.3, MURDER IN PARADISE - Palmer-Jones series #3
TELLING TALES (Vera Stanhope) #2
4.8, SILENT VOICES, (Vera Stanhope) #4
5.0, THE GLASS ROOM (Vera Stanhope) #5
4.9, HARBOUR STREET, Ann Cleeves (Vera Stanhope) #6
4.5, BURIAL OF GHOSTS - stand-alone
4.8, THE MOTH CATCHER, Ann Cleeves (Vera Stanhope #7)

Review: THEIR LITTLE SECRET, Mark Billingham

  • format: kindle (Amazon)
  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 788 KB
  • Print Length: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group (2 May 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B07KW91G2B
  • Thorne & Tanner series #16
Synopsis (author)

Sarah thinks of herself as a normal single mum. It’s what she wants others to think of her. But the truth is, she needs something new, something thrilling.

Meanwhile, DI Tom Thorne is investigating a woman’s suicide, convinced she was driven to do it by a man who preys on vulnerable women.

A man who is about to change Sarah’s life.

My Take

Although this is part of quite a long series, with several minor plot threads connecting to previous novels, it works quite well as a stand-alone.

The novel begins with the aftermath of a middle aged woman throwing herself under a train. Although this is obviously a suicide Tom Thorne becomes concerned with why she did it. He meets her sister and niece who tells him about how a con artist fleeced her of her savings. He would dearly like to find the con man and charge him with manslaughter.

In the second chapter we meet Sarah, a young mum who has just dropped her son Jamie off at his new school. She is meeting other mums for coffee and she meets an older man.

From these two starting points the novel quickly develops complexity and in surprising ways.

A very good read.

My rating: 4.5

I've also read
4.4, TALKING TO THE DEAD
4.5, RUSH OF BLOOD
 

29 March 2020

Review: THE WIFE AND THE WIDOW, Christian White

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 1798 KB
  • Print Length: 370 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1250194377
  • Publisher: Affirm Press (September 24, 2019)
  • Publication Date: September 24, 2019
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B07XZ1P2JR
Synopsis (Amazon)

Set against the backdrop of an eerie island town in the dead of winter, The Wife and the Widow is a mystery/thriller told from two perspectives: Kate, a widow whose grief is compounded by what she learns about her dead husband’s secret life; and Abby, an island local whose world is turned upside down when she’s forced to confront the evidence that her husband is a murderer. But nothing on this island is quite as it seems, and only when these women come together can they discover the whole story about the men in their lives.

Brilliant and beguiling, The Wife and the Widow takes you to a cliff edge and asks the question: how well do we really know the people we love?

My Take

This novel is based on such a clever plot twist.

John Keddie has been away for two weeks supposedly at a palliative care conference in London. When he doesn't arrive on a flight home to Melbourne, doesn't answer his phone, his wife Kate reports him missing.

Then a security company reports an intruder at their holiday house on Belport Island in Bass Strait, and Kate and her father-in-law travel to the island to see whether John is there.

On the face of it this is a standard missing person/murder mystery but nothing prepares the reader for the huge plot twist that begins to puzzle about half way through the novel.

An excellent, recommended read.

My rating: 4.5

I had previously read THE NOWHERE CHILD

Review: CHICKENFEED, Minette Walters

  • File Size: 408 KB
  • Print Length: 121 pages
  • Publisher: Allen & Unwin (April 1, 2006)
  • Publication Date: January 20, 2015
  • Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00SGK1IS4
Synopsis (Amazon)

When Minette Walters was commissioned (along with several other writers) to produce a book in the Quick Read series, she came up with a novel called Chickenfeed, firmly in her chosen territory: the psychology of crime and criminals. The brief was to keep things fast-moving, with no unwieldy adjectives and (if possible) seduce into reading those who have either lost--or had never acquired--the habit. Ironically, Chickenfeed, despite its brevity, reads very much like Walters' customary fare: a violent crime is committed (offstage, as it were), but the concentration is on perpetrator and victim rather than a dogged police inspector putting the pieces together.

The subject is a true story: in 1920s East Sussex, the corpse of Elsie Cameron is discovered in a chicken run. The man found guilty of the crime, her fiancĂ© Norman Thorne, was sentenced to death and hanged. At the time of his death, doubts were cast on the verdict, and it is very much Walters' concern to address those doubts here. We're given a fascinating and detailed study of two blighted lives: Norman, living under cramped conditions, is struggling against heavy odds to make a living as a chicken farmer. The unprepossessing Elsie, prickly and self obsessed, finds it difficult to get on with her family or her workmates, and is fired from a succession of jobs. Marriage to Norman is the one thing--she comes to believe--that will change her wretched life, but although she does her damnedest to get the reluctant Norman to marry her, she withholds sex, allowing Norman to undress her and touch her naked body, but forbidding any other sexual contact. Things grow worse, as Elsie's family (keen to rid themselves of her) join their daughter in pressing marriage on the increasingly reluctant Norman. Then he meets someone else... and Elsie disappears. 

My take

A quite lengthy novella. Based on a true case from 1924 when Norman Thorne was convicted of murdering his fiance Elsie Cameron.

To the end Norman swore that he had found Elsie dead, hanging in his shack. His conviction was based on the testimony of Sir Bernard Spilsbury.

Minette Walters has reconstructed evidence over their four year courtship when Elsie had tried to bring on the marriage by claiming she was pregnant. Norman always said she couldn't be and eventually the autopsy showed that she wasn't.

My rating: 4.3

I've also read
THE ICE HOUSE
4.7, THE TURN OF MIDNIGHT
4.4, THE DEVIL'S FEATHER

Review: MR NOBODY, Catherine Steadman

  •     Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  •     ISBN: 9781471192265
  •     Publication Date: 20/01/2020
Synopsis (publisher)

When a man is found on a Norfolk beach, drifting in and out of consciousness, with no identification and unable to speak, interest in him is sparked immediately. From the hospital staff who find themselves inexplicably drawn to him; to international medical experts who are baffled by him; to the national press who call him Mr Nobody; everyone wants answers.

Who is this man? And what happened to him? Neuropsychiatrist Dr Emma Lewis is asked to assess the patient. This is her field of expertise, this is the chance she's been waiting for and this case could make her name known across the world.

But therein lies the danger. Emma left this same small town in Norfolk fourteen years ago and has taken great pains to cover all traces of her past since then. But now something – or someone – is calling her back. And the more time she spends with her patient, the more alarmed she becomes. Has she walked into danger?

My Take

Dr. Emma Lewis gets a phone call from a psychiatrist in USA whom she looks up to, asking her to take over a case in Norfolk, of a man found on a beach with no memory of who he is or how he got there.

By the time she meets him, the hospital where Mr Nobody is have given him the name Matthew. But while he does seem to have amnesia and possible fugue, Emma accidentally discovers that he knows a little too much about herself.

And Emma has her own reasons why she hasn't been to Norfolk for 14 years, a past that has led to her and her family changing their names.

A really good read, but there was a spot about halfway through where I thought the author must have made significant changes to the direction of the plot.

My rating: 4.5

I've already read
4.2, SOMETHING IN THE WATER

28 March 2020

Review: NINE PERFECT STRANGERS, Liane Moriarty

  • Originally published: 18 September 2018
  • Source: Libby e-book App, through my local library
Synopsis

The retreat at health and wellness resort Tranquillum House promises total transformation. Nine stressed city dwellers are keen to drop their literal and mental baggage, and absorb the meditative ambience while enjoying their hot stone massages.

Watching over them is the resort's director, a woman on a mission to reinvigorate their tired minds and bodies.

These nine perfect strangers have no idea what is about to hit them.

With her wit, compassion and uncanny understanding of human behaviour, Liane Moriarty explores the depth of connection that can be formed when people are thrown together in... unconventional circumstances.

My take

My first Libby book - I read it on my android phone (the screen is a bit small) and my iPad (the screen is a bit big. Borrowing and returning were painless, and the app "synced" on the two devices. But you are at the mercy of the battery life of your devices and my iPad is not good. I may have to buy a smaller one just for ebooks, but then I can get the books free as against buying them for my Kindle.

Nine strangers embark on a retreat at Tranquillam House, in the Australian countryside, about 2 hours from Sydney.

In the first half of the book we learn why the various individuals are there and what they hope to get out of the 10 day retreat. We learn also about the people who are running the business.
All seems to be going well until we learn that Masha, who is the CEO of the retreat has been lacing their smoothies with LSD and ecstasy and then it appears that she is just a little mad and even dangerous.

My rating: 4.5

I've also read
4.6, THE HUSBAND'S SECRET
4.8, BIG LITTLE LIES
4.5, TRULY, MADLY GUILTY

Review: THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ, Heather Morris

  • Originally published in Australia by 2018
  • ISBN 978-0-06-279715-5
  • 262 pages
Synopsis (Good Reads)

In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.

Imprisoned for more than two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.

One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.

A vivid, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful re-creation of Lale Sokolov's experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions.

My Take

A departure from my usual fare of Crime Fiction (although crimes have definitely been committed)
A book I bought in LA at the airport when my electronic devices were running low in battery life.
It was billed in the book store as #1 and I had had it recommended in the last year by several people.

It was a very compelling read, an opportunity to read at first hand an inside story about the events of the Holocaust.
Lale Sokolov spent 3 years of his life as a prisoner in Auschwitz/Birkenau tattooing numbers on the arms of new inmates, taking the opportunity to undertake some black market trading exchanging jewels for food and helping keep fellow prisoners alive. Some saw Lale as a collaborator and occasionally reported his activities. Several times he nearly lost his life.

My guess is that there are some too who would see Lale as a lower level war criminal, but his experiences were harrowing.

My rating: 4.5

About the author
A native of New Zealand now resident in Australia, working in a large public hospital in Melbourne. For several years I studied and wrote screenplays, one of which was optioned by an academy award winning Screenwriter in the U.S. In 2003, I was introduced to an elderly gentleman "who might just have a story worth telling". The day I met Lale Sokolov changed my life, as our friendship grew and he embarked on a journey of self scrutiny, entrusting the inner most details of his life during the Holocaust. I originally wrote Lale's story as a screenplay - which ranked high in international competitions - before reshaping it into my debut novel, The Tattooist of Auschwitz. 

16 March 2020

Self-isolation

Things are largely shut down here in Tampa.
W arrived safely on Tuesday but have been nowhere since..
Schools are closed as are pleasure parks, people are stockpiling supplies, and are generally staying home. Travel is restricted.

Amazing that this has really brought the world as we know it to a stand still.

I’ve done a lot of reading and playing scrabble games on my iPad.

In theory we get on a plane and fly home in 2 weeks, and then enter a period of self-isolation for two weeks.

10 March 2020

Gone Travellin'

Once again off to Tampa for 3 weeks, so postings on this blog may be erratic, even non-existent.

Don't worry, I am well supplied with books both on paper and on Kindle, so reading will continue apace, but I may not have time to record on my blog.

I'll give you a list and some ratings when I get back.


7 March 2020

Review: DEATH IS NOW MY NEIGHBOUR, Colin Dexter - audio book

  • format: audio book from Audible
  • Inspector Morse Mysteries, Book 12
  • Originally published 1996
  • Narrated by: Samuel West
  • Length: 8 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 12-14-17
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Macmillan Digital Audio
Synopsis (Audible)

As he drove his chief down to Kidlington, Lewis returned the conversation to where it had begun.

'You haven't told me what you think about this fellow Owens - the dead woman's next-door neighbour.'

'Death is always the next-door neighbour,' said Morse sombrely.


The murder of a young woman... A cryptic 17th-century love poem... And a photograph of a mystery grey-haired man...

More than enough to set Chief Inspector E. Morse on the trail of a killer.

And it's a trail that leads him to Lonsdale College, where the contest between Julian Storrs and Dr Denis Cornford for the coveted position of Master is hotting up.

But then Morse faces a greater, far more personal crisis...

My Take

Yet another in this wonderful series, superbly narrated by Samuel West.

Morse and Chief Superintendent Strange are coming up to retirement, and Morse is beginning to pay the penalty for his drinking in particular, so in this novel he has a medical emergency and the diagnosis of diabetes. But underneath it all, he is still the old Morse, and he and Lewis have a very credible relationship.

If I haven't convinced you yet of how good this series is, how well plotted these novels are, how well Samuel West narrates them, then I guess I never will. But it is not too late to start if you are looking for good quality crime fiction audio.

And for me, just one book to go in the series, but I won't be tackling it for another month or so.

My rating: 4.7

I've also read
4.3, INSPECTOR MORSE: BBB Radio Collection
4.5, THE SECRET OF ANNEXE THREE - #7 audio book
4.6, THE WENCH IS DEAD- #8, audio book
4.3, SERVICE OF ALL THE DEAD - #4 audio book
4.4, LAST SEEN WEARING  - #2 audio book
4.6, THE RIDDLE OF THE THIRD MILE - #6 audio book
4.6, THE JEWEL THAT WAS OURS - #9, audio book
4.8, THE WAY THROUGH THE WOODS #10, audio book  
4.7, THE DAUGHTERS OF CAIN - #11, audio book

Review: EVEN DOGS IN THE WILD, Ian Rankin

  • this edition published by Orion books 2015
  • ISBN 978-1-4091-5937-7
  • 345 pages
  • source: my local library
  • #20 in the John Rebus series
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

Rebus comes out of retirement...to save his nemesis.

Detective Inspector Siobhan Clarke is feeling the heat. She's investigating the death of a senior government prosecutor, David Minton, who has friends in high places. When one of their own is killed, the powers that be want answers fast. But Clarke is puzzled: If Minton died in a robbery as everyone thinks, why is nothing missing from his home? The answer may lie not in what was taken but in what was left behind at the scene - an ominous note.

Malcolm Fox is feeling useless. Shunned by his colleagues because of his past in the Complaints bureau, he's been reassigned to a grunt detail, helping a surveillance team - one that trusts him even less than his own boss does - track a notorious Glasgow crime family. Helping Clarke with the Minton case is the only thing that makes Fox feel like a real cop.

Newly minted civilian John Rebus is feeling restless. Being a cop is in his blood, and he's failing miserably at retirement. So when Clarke and Fox ask for his help, Rebus doesn't need long to consider his options. But before he can get his bearings, a call comes from Rebus' old nemesis - "Big Ger" Cafferty. Someone just fired a bullet through his front window - and sent him a note identical to Minton's. The normally unflappable old gangster is on edge, but for the life of him Cafferty can't figure out who he's wronged. And the only man he trusts with his life is Rebus.

As the cases collide, it's up to Clarke, Fox, and Rebus to connect the dots and save their unlikely ally, Cafferty, whose past harbors a shocking secret that implicates Minton's friends in an unspeakable crime. Even Dogs in the Wild reunites crime fiction legend Ian Rankin's greatest characters in an explosive story exploring the darkest corners of our desires. 

My Take

I've actually read the two titles preceding this novel in the series, so it took me a while to get my bearings and to get things in order.

The novel; brings together all the main characters from the series to that point, shortly after Rebus' (enforced) retirement.

It is a very black novel based on the gangland underlying the structure of Edinburgh and Glasgow and the role of the police in maintaining equilibrium. The Edinburgh police find that they can't do without Rebus and his considerable knowledge.

It opens up avenues for further exploration, e.g. a relationship between  Malcolm Fox and Siobhan Clarke, which I don't think Rankin pursued.

Definitely one for those who have read earlier books, but possibly not for those who have not dipped a toe in that water.

My rating: 4.5

I've also read
THE COMPLAINTS
DOORS OPEN
HIDE & SEEK
4.4, BEGGARS BANQUET
4.4, WITCH HUNT - writing as Jack Harvey
4.5, THE FALLS
4.7, THE IMPOSSIBLE DEAD
4.8, STANDING IN ANOTHER MAN'S GRAVE $18
4.7, SAINTS OF THE SHADOW BIBLE #19
4.5, RATHER BE THE DEVIL #21

5.0, IN A HOUSE OF LIES   #22

Series (Fantastic Fiction)
Inspector Rebus
   1. Knots and Crosses (1987)
   2. Hide and Seek (1990)
   3. Tooth and Nail (1992)
     aka Wolfman
   4. Strip Jack (1992)
   5. The Black Book (1993)
   6. Mortal Causes (1994)
   7. Let It Bleed (1995)
   8. Black and Blue (1997)
   9. The Hanging Garden (1998)
   10. Dead Souls (1999)
   10.5. Death Is Not the End (1998)
   11. Set in Darkness (2000)
   12. The Falls (2001)
   13. Resurrection Men (2001)
   14. A Question of Blood (2003)
   15. Fleshmarket Close (2004)
     aka Fleshmarket Alley
   16. The Naming Of The Dead (2006)
   17. Exit Music (2007)
   18. Standing in Another Man's Grave (2012)
   19. Saints of the Shadow Bible (2013)
   20. Even Dogs in the Wild (2015)
   21. Rather Be the Devil (2016)
   22. In a House of Lies (2018)

1 March 2020

Review: DAY OF THE DEAD, Nicci French

  • this edition published in 2018 by penguin UK
  • ISBN 978-0-718-17969-4
  • 374 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

Now the final book in this extraordinary series is here. And it's an ending you'll never forget.

A decade ago, psychologist Frieda Klein was sucked into the orbit of Dean Reeve - a killer able to impersonate almost anyone, a man who can disappear without a trace, a psychopath obsessed with Frieda herself.

In the years since, Frieda has worked with - and sometimes against - the London police in solving their most baffling cases. But now she's in hiding, driven to isolation by Reeve. When a series of murders announces his return, Frieda must emerge from the shadows to confront her nemesis. And it's a showdown she might not survive.

Criminology student Lola Hayes has tracked Frieda down with a single-minded pursuit: she wants to delve inside the mind of a woman besieged by darkness. But in following every move Frieda makes, Lola is exposing herself to the same terrors - and the same twisted fixation of a diabolical psychopath.

This gripping cat-and-mouse thriller pits one of the most fascinating characters in contemporary fiction against an enemy like none other. Smart, sophisticated, and spellbinding, it's a book that will leave you breathless.

My Take

Frieda is determined to bring her relationship with Dean Reeve to an end. For 8 years he has been tracking her, invading her home, involving her in his crimes. Now she has had enough and she is determined to meet him and bring it all to an end. But will she survive?

She has deliberately gone into hiding and so criminology student Lola Hayes, who wants to base her dissertation on Frieda, finds her incredibly hard to track.And when she does, Dean brings her into his "sphere of influence" and so Lola joins Frieda on the run.

Dean leaves bodies all over London and Frieda tries to predict where the next one will be found. But then she realises that Lola is in touch with Dean.

It is always a bit sad when a series comes to an end, but I think it was time.

My rating: 4.5

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
4.7, THE LYING ROOM

Frieda Kelin series
Frieda Klein
   1. Blue Monday (2011)
   2. Tuesday's Gone (2012)
   3. Waiting for Wednesday (2013)
   4. Thursday's Children (2014)
   5. Friday on My Mind (2015)
   6. Saturday Requiem (2016)
     aka Dark Saturday
   7. Sunday Morning Coming Down (2017)
     aka Sunday Silence
   8. Day of the Dead (2018) 

Pick of the Month February 2020

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

This meme is an attempt to aggregate those summary posts.
It is an invitation to you to write your own summary post for February 2020, 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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