2 October 2022

Review: THE RISING TIDE, Ann Cleeves

  • This edition provided as an e-book on Libby by my local library
  • Publisher Pan Macmillan
  • ISBN: 9781761261565
  • Format: eBook
  • Pub Date: 09/08/2022

Synopsis (publisher)

Vera Stanhope, star of ITV's Vera, returns in the tenth novel in number one bestseller Ann Cleeves' acclaimed series.

Fifty years ago, a group of teenagers spent a weekend on Holy Island, forging a bond that has lasted a lifetime. Now, they still return every five years to celebrate their friendship, and remember the friend they lost to the rising waters of the causeway at the first reunion.

Now, when one of them is found hanged, Vera is called in. Learning that the dead man had recently been fired after misconduct allegations, Vera knows she must discover what the friends are hiding, and whether the events of many years before could have led to murder then, and now . . .

But with the tide rising, secrets long-hidden are finding their way to the surface, and Vera and the team may find themselves in more danger than they could have believed possible . . .

My Take

This is an incredibly complex plot, and Ann Cleeves rises to the occasion - among her very best.

When Rick Kelsall is discovered hanged from the rafters of his small bedroom on the Holy Island, Vera is convinced that it is not suicide. And, as usual with Vera, she is convinced the clue to this murder lies in the past not necessarily in the most immediate events in everybody's lives.

As Vera and her small team peel back the layers events emerge. Some people lie about where they have been, obscuring the truth, but nothing daunts Vera.

An enthralling read.


My rating: 5.0

I've read

Fantastic Fiction listing

Vera Stanhope
   1. The Crow Trap (1999)
   2. Telling Tales (2005)
   3. Hidden Depths (2007)
   4. Silent Voices (2011)
   5. The Glass Room (2012)
   6. Harbour Street (2014)
   7. The Moth Catcher (2015)
   8. The Seagull (2017)
   8.5. Frozen (2020)
   9. The Darkest Evening (2020)
   9.5. The Woman on the Island (2022)
   10. The Rising Tide (2022)


1 October 2022

Review: DEATH COMES AS THE END, Agatha Christie

  • this edition accessed through my local library as a large print edition
  • first published 1944
  • ISBN 978-0-06-287971-4
  • 321 pages

Synopsis (publisher)

It is Egypt, 2000 BC, where death gives meaning to life. At the foot of a cliff lies the broken, twisted body of Nofret, concubine to a Ka-priest. Young, beautiful and venomous, most agree that she deserved to die like a snake. 

Yet Renisenb, the priest’s daughter, believes that the woman’s death was not fate, but murder. Increasingly, she becomes convinced that the source of evil lurks within her own father’s household. 

As the wife of an eminent archaeologist, Agatha Christie took part in several expeditions to the Middle East. Drawing upon this experience and exhaustive research, she wrote this serial killer mystery laid in Egypt 4000 years ago.  

My Take

This is not the first time I've read this novel - I am re-reading it with my U3A Agatha Christie Reading Group. See my previous review.

When Imhotep, the Ka-priest, returns to his family, he brings with him an unwelcome surprise, a concubine from the North, who is in fact younger than his recently widowed daughter. None of his household like the concubine, and she plainly does not like them. She tries to turn the family against their father and seems determined to stir up trouble.

But what Nofret, the concubine, does, as one of the family remarks, is reveals where trouble and evil already are present.

In the introductory Author's Note Agatha Christie points out that the fact that the action of the book takes place on the West bank of the Nile at Thebes in Egypt about 2000 BC is actually incidental to the story. It is a story that could have been played out against any setting. It is a story of jealousy, a father who dominates too much, and children who are chafing against the bit. The murder of the concubine is just the first in a series of incidents, and the author holds various characters up for us to scrutinise.

We see the action mainly through the eyes of Imhotep's daughter Renisenb, who is not always the most reliable judge if character, and she is bewildered as various members of the household are killed, and she is not sure who to trust.

The author puts her knowledge of Egyptian funerary rites and procedures to good use in providing the reader with an authentic background for a solid murder mystery. In all there are 5 murders, enough to overwhelm even the most vigilant family.

My rating: 4.4

Agatha Christie novels I've read

27 September 2022

Review: TERRA INCOGNITA, Ruth Downie

  • This edition made available as an e-book on Kindle
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B07BHPT57D
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ March 15, 2018
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 404 pages 

Synopsis (Amazon)

Wind-swept North Britannia, where the natives are in the mood for killing…

Gaius Petreius Ruso, medicus to the Twentieth Legion, has been posted to the hostile north – and thrown into a no-win situation. Thessalus, the current doctor at the Fort of Coria, has confessed to a grisly murder and his Prefect demands that Ruso take charge of the patients and convince Thessalus to retract his confession. But, it seems a reputation for solving tricky murders down south isn’t always helpful.

Unfortunately, the corpse is offering up few answers other than to suggest that the natives might be more murderous than restless. If Ruso is to identify the killer, he’ll need all his wits about him to keep Romans, natives and slave girls from each other’s throats.

The second novel in the bestselling Gaius Petreius Ruso series. Formerly published as Ruso and the Demented Doctor.

My Take

This story was made more interesting, despite its length, by the fact that I have been in the area in which it is set, just south of Hadrian's Wall, at least a couple of times. 

I am always surprised too at how Ruth Downie makes the characters and situations feel so modern, despite the fact that historically it is set in Roman Britain, and life would have been horrendously primitive by our standards.

My rating: 4.4

 I've also read

4.4, MEDICUS, Ruth Downie - #1  

20 September 2022

Review: THE PORTSMOUTH MURDERS, Pauline Rowson

  • this edition an e-book on Kindle (Amazon)
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09SV6G9QP
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Joffe Books crime thriller, mystery and suspense (February 17, 2022)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 194 pages 
  • previously published as TIDE OF DEATH

Synopsis  (Amazon)

Meet Detective Inspector Andy Horton. It’s his second day back in Portsmouth’s CID and things aren’t going well.

Please note this was previously published as Tide of Death.

DI Andy Horton is on his morning run along an isolated stretch of beach when he stumbles across a dead man. Stark naked and bludgeoned to death.

Eight months ago, DI Horton’s life fell apart when he was suspended for misconduct. His wife kicked him out and stopped him seeing his daughter.

The young woman who’d accused him went missing and the charges were dropped, but his personal and professional life are still in a mess.

And now it doesn’t look good for a detective under suspicion to be the one to find a dead body. His colleagues don’t want him on the case.

But this murder will challenge Detective Horton in every single way. And when another body turns up with the same cause of death, Horton suspects he might be the next person in the killer’s sights.

My Take

It felt good to catch up with Andy Horton again (see below for titles I have read before). He is still a bit of a loose cannon that life has dealt some hard knocks to. Some of it he brings on himself.

This felt like a good book to start again on, so if you haven't read any of Pauline Rowson's novels and are looking for relatively quick reads, then this could be where you will start. Characters are well described and plots are well constructed.

I will certainly be trying the second title in this series.

My rating: 4.5  

DI Andy Horton’s mum walked out on him when he was a child and he grew up in children’s home. Now he lives onboard his yacht in Southsea Marina. He rides a Harley-Davidson and never wears a suit or tie — unless it’s to go to court. He’s an instinctive copper and a man of contrasts, which often lands him in trouble with his bosses. He has a desperate need to belong, and yet is always just on the outside. Self-contained, afraid to show his feelings, but he’s a risk-taker that seeks justice.

Portsmouth boasts a vibrant waterfront, a diverse multicultural population, an international port, a historic dockyard, and is home of the Royal Navy. Portsmouth Harbour is one of the busiest in the world — and one of the best places to hide a body, it seems. Set against the backdrop of the sea, the Solent area of Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight is every detective’s worst nightmare. The sea is ever-changing and often the best clues get swept away by the tide.


I've also read


17 September 2022

Review: 56 DAYS, Catherine Ryan Howard

  • This edition made available through my local library as an e-book on Libby
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Blackstone Publishing (August 17, 2021)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 312 pages 

Synopsis (Amazon)

No one even knew they were together. Now one of them is dead.


Ciara and Oliver meet in a supermarket queue in Dublin and start dating the same week COVID-19 reaches Irish shores.


When lockdown threatens to keep them apart, Oliver suggests they move in together. Ciara sees a unique opportunity for a relationship to flourish without the scrutiny of family and friends. Oliver sees a chance to hide who—and what—he really is.


Detectives arrive at Oliver’s apartment to discover a decomposing body inside.

Can they determine what really happened, or has lockdown created an opportunity for someone to commit the perfect crime? 

My Take

I read somewhere recently that discerning readers will in the future require writers to identify their time frame as pre-pandemic or post-pandemic, but this is the first novel that I've read that uses the pandemic as a background.

Much of what happens in Dublin as Ireland goes into lockdown in the first wave of the pandemic will be familiar to you. It certainly coincides with what happened here in Australia as Covid-19 raced through our cities and the fingers of infection reached out to us. Australia closed its borders to keep us safe, we worked from home, schools closed, and we all hibernated.

There are some interesting features to this novel. Ciara and Oliver are the two main narrative voices, and while we are aware from early on that Oliver has a hidden past, Ciara's hidden past does not emerge until later on. The settings jump time frames, leaping from TODAY back into the past, and we sometimes see an event from at least two points of view.

Very well constructed.  And it raises some interesting questions, not the least the one of whether anybody really ever pays the full price for a mistake in their past.

My rating: 4.7

I've also read

14 September 2022

Review: THE WRONG WOMAN, J. P. Pomare

  • This edition published by Hachette Australia
  • available from my local library

  • Jul 27, 2022
  • ISBN 9781869718190
  • 334 pages

Synopsis (publisher)

IT WAS A TRAGIC ACCIDENT. WASN'T IT? A private investigator returning to the hometown he fled years ago becomes entangled in the disappearance of two teenage girls in this stunning literary crime thriller.

Reid left the small town of Manson a decade ago, promising his former Chief of Police boss he'd never return. He made a new life in the city, became a PI and turned his back on his old life.

Now an insurance firm has offered him good money to look into a suspicious car crash, and he finds himself back in the place he grew up - home to his complicated family history, a scarring relationship breakdown and a very public career-ending incident.

As Reid's investigation unfolds, nothing is as it seems: rumours are swirling about the well-liked young woman who crashed the car, killing her professor husband, and their possible connection to a local student who has gone missing.

Soon Reid finds himself veering away from the job he has been paid to do. Will he end up in the dangerous position of taking on the town again?

My Take

A woman has driven her car into a tree, killing her husband. Two teenage girls are missing.  A private investigator, once a policeman, is employed to investigate the crash, to find out if it really was an accident, or did the woman deliberately drive her car into a tree? Why would she? Are these strands all linked?

There are a number of mysteries for the reader to solve. Why did Reid leave the twin towns in California originally? Why did he promise never to return?

A tightly woven plot, hints dropped here and there, told mainly by two narrators, threaded skilfully between the past and the present.

Pomare is an author to watch out for.

My rating: 4.7

I've also read

10 September 2022

Review: REWIND, Catherine Ryan Howard

  • This edition made available by my local library as an e-book on Libby
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B07N7Z1785
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Corvus; Main edition (August 22, 2019)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 370 pages

Synopsis (Amazon)

From the bestselling, Edgar-nominated novelist Catherine Ryan Howard comes an explosive story about a twisted voyeur and a terrible crime ...


Andrew, the manager of Shanamore Cottages, watches his only guest via a hidden camera in her room. One night the unthinkable happens: a shadowy figure emerges on-screen, kills her, and destroys the camera. But who is the murderer? How did they know about the camera? And how will Andrew live with himself?


Natalie wishes she'd stayed at home as soon as she arrives in the wintry isolation of Shanamore. There's something creepy about the manager. She wants to leave, but she can't -- not until she's found what she's looking for ...


Psycho meets Fatal Attraction in this explosive story about a murder caught on camera. You've already missed the start. To get the full picture you must rewind the tape and play it through to the end, no matter how shocking ... 

My Take

While I found this novel very engaging reading, I must admit that I puzzled a lot over its structure and eventually gave up on trying to make sense of it. 

The final explanation of who was behind the crime and why, was in many ways "out of left field" as they say.

My rating: 4.4

I've also read


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