31 March 2015

Meme: new to me authors January to March 2015

Over a third of the authors I've read this quarter have been new-to-me.
Some have been recently published like Rachel Abbott, Helen Goltz, and Candice Fox, while others have been found because I am seeking to read some vintage crime fiction.
  1. 4.8, ONLY THE INNOCENT, Rachel Abbott
  2. 4.0, THE GOLDEN CLAW, Sax Rohmer 
  3. 4.3, GAME FOR FIVE, Marco Malvaldi 
  4. 4.3, MASTERMIND, Helen Goltz 
  5. 4.2, THE CORNISH COAST MURDER, John Bude    
  6. 5.0, HADES, Candice Fox
  7. 4.6, BEAST IN VIEW, Margaret Millar 
  8. 4.5, MURDER ONE, Robert Dugoni 
  9. 4.3, DEAD HEADING, Catherine Aird  
  10. 2.0, THE BRONZE HORSEMAN, Paullina Simons
  11. 4.7, THE DARK ROAD TO MERCY, Wiley Cash 
  12. 4.7 MEDEA'S CURSE, Anne Buist
  13. 4.5, THE KIZUNA COAST, Sujata Massey  
  14. 3.8, ROSEMARY'S BABY, Ira Levin
  15. 4.5, DARK HORSE, Honey Brown 
  16. 3.6, DEAD RECKONING, Michael B. Smart
  17. 4.5, POIROT and me, David Suchet  
See what others have listed for their new-to-me authors.

New to me authors January to March 2015

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 January to March 2015, 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 again at the end of June 2015

30 March 2015

Review: POIROT and me, David Suchet

  • published by Headline, 2013
  • co-author Geoffrey Wansell
  • ISBN 978-0-7553-6422-0
  • 373 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Amazon)

David Suchet shares his many memories of creating this iconic television series and reflects on what the detective has meant to him over the years

In the summer of 2013 David Suchet filmed his final scenes as Hercule Poirot. After 24 years in the role, he played the character in every story that Agatha Christie wrote about him (bar one, deemed unfilmable) and he bid adieu to a role and a character that changed his life. Here he tells the story of how he secured the part, with the blessing of Agatha Christie's daughter, and set himself the task of presenting the most authentic Poirot that had ever been filmed. David Suchet is uniquely placed to offer the ultimate companion to one of the world's longest running television series. Peppered with anecdotes about filming, including many tales of the guest stars who have appeared over the years, the book is essential reading for Poirot fans all over the world.

My take

David Suchet takes the reader through twenty five years of character acting, when he and Poirot became one: 70 television films, fulfilling his dream of presenting the entire canon of Agatha Christie's Poirot stories. As he says, over half his adult life has focussed on the authentic portrayal of Poirot.

He describes how he came to be Poirot and then the televised stories in the order in which each series was produced. As we know, they weren't filmed in the order in which they were written, and some, Suchet admits, were rather "thin" because the underlying story was a bit thin, and some were not as true to the original written story as others. But some were splendid and an extraordinary amount of money was invested in their production.

It is a fascinating read. Suchet sees himself as charged with the need to present Poirot as Agatha Christie saw him. He talks about what attracts people to Poirot, why the various films have had such wide appeal.

But don't expect him to show up in any "new" Poirot story. He has vowed to never appear in any Poirot story that Dame Agatha didn't write. As far as he is concerned his portrayal of Poirot has finished.
    There will never be another series with me playing Poirot..... a part of me has died with him.
My rating: 4.5

Review: RUNAWAY, Peter May - audio book

  • Written by: Peter May
  • Narrated by: Peter Forbes
  • Length: 10 hrs and 34 mins 
  • print published 2015
  • Unabridged Audiobook
Synopsis (Audible)

In 1965, five teenage friends fled Glasgow for London to pursue their dream of musical stardom. Yet before year's end three returned, and returned damaged. In 2015, a brutal murder forces those three men, now in their sixties, to journey back to London and finally confront the dark truth they have run from for five decades.

Runaway is a crime novel covering fifty years of friendships solidified and severed, dreams shared and shattered and passions lit and extinguished; set against the backdrop of two unique and contrasting cities at two unique and contrasting periods of recent history.

My Take

The premise of this story is simple: 50 years ago five teenage friends took their band from Glasgow to London, basically running away from home. Months later three of them returned home, their dreams shattered. And now one of them, dying, insists that the truth of what happened then has to be revealed. Things have to be put right.

This story is filled with both poignant and humorous episodes as the three men, and a grandson, help one of them escape from a nursing home, steal a car, and join a pensioners outing, all in an effort to get to London before one of them dies.

Peter Forbes' narration was superb, and the story was excellent.

Peter May is a writer to follow!

My rating: 4.8

I've also reviewed

29 March 2015

3,000 published posts

I began this blog on 2 Jan 2008, just over 7 years ago, with the intent of publishing my reviews of crime fiction that I've read.

Just recently the 950th book review was published, and now we are marking another milestone.

I am posting much less than I used to, and now most posts are book reviews. Back in the early days I often posted twice, and only one post in 5 was a book review.

However I'm still a crime fiction addict!

Thank you for visiting, and for stimulating me with your comments.

Review:SINS OF THE FATHER, Graham Hurley

 Synopsis ( Audible)

A rich old man, Rupert Moncrieff, is beaten to death in the silence of his West Country waterside mansion, his head hooded and his throat cut. His extended family are still living beneath his roof, each with their own room, their own story, their own ghosts, and their own motives for murder.

And in this world of darkness and dysfunction are the artefacts and memories of colonial atrocities that are returning to haunt them all.

At the heart of the murder investigation is DS Jimmy Suttle who, along with his estranged journalist wife Lizzie, is fighting his own demons after the abduction and death of their young daughter, Grace.

But who killed Rupert Moncrieff? And what secrets is the house holding onto that could unravel this whole investigation? The enquiry takes Suttle to Africa and beyond as he slowly begins to understand the damage that human beings can inflict upon one another. Not simply on the battlefield. Not simply in the torture camps in the Kenyan bush. But much, much closer to home.

My Take

Although I was convinced it was not so, my records tell me that this is the first novel by Graham Hurley that I have reviewed in this history of this blog. 

The structure is similar to what we have seen in recent years in British crime fiction: two independent stories connected by a common factor, in this case a married couple, and then threading their way through the manuscript, more or less in step. Almost, in this case, two novels in one.

The murder investigation, undertaken by the team that DS Jimmy Suttle is part of, explores how British colonial administrators treated the local inhabitants, in this case in Kenya, whom they regarded as racially inferior. In fact Suttle and his boss go out to Africa to work out whether a local who recently visited England could be responsible for the gruesome murder, or whether the answer is much closer to home. Meanwhile Suttle's wife Lizzie is trying to make some sense of the death of their four year old daughter Grace. She has been offered a book contract to write about the impact on their lives. Should she take it?

As with novels with similar structure the novel's narrative hops almost without warning from one story to another, making sure the reader stays alert.

My rating: 4.5

About the author

Graham Hurley is an award-winning TV documentary maker who now writes full time. He has now published 25 novels. He has lived in Portsmouth for over 20 years. He is married and has grown-up children.

The Jimmy Suttle series
1. Western Approaches (2012)
2. Touching Distance (2013)
3. Sins of the Father (2014)

26 March 2015

Review: ABATTOIR BLUES, Peter Robinson

  • first published in the UK 2014, Hodder & Stoughton
  • #22 in the Alan Banks series
  • ISBN 978-1-444-70496-4
  • 367 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (author website)

Taking the title from the Nick Cave album, this sophisticated thriller, featuring DCI Alan Banks, follows the success of No.1 best-seller Children of the Revolution, which shot to the top of the UK charts earlier this year.

When two boys vanish under mysterious circumstances, the local community is filled with unease. Then a bloodstain is discovered in a disused World War Two hangar nearby, and a caravan belonging to one of the youths is burned to the ground. Things quickly become much more sinister.

Assigned to the case, DCI Banks and his team are baffled by the mystery laid out before them. But when a motor accident throws up a gruesome discovery, the investigation spins into a higher gear – in another direction. As Banks and his team struggle desperately to find the missing boy who holds the key to the puzzle, they find themselves in a race against time where it’s their turn to become the prey…

My Take

The blurb (above) promoting this novel, tells you almost as much as the reader needs to be told. The setting is North Yorkshire and Terry Gilchrist, recently discharged from the army is walking his dog. Peaches disappears inside an old hanger and Gilchrist recognises what Peaches has found as blood. Meanwhile Annie Cabot is investigating the theft of a tractor and Alan Banks is returning from holidays.

Crime scene investigators affirm that what Peaches found is human blood and Banks takes over the investigation.

I think what I enjoyed most about this novel was the exploration of the roles played by the various members of Banks' team, and particularly the part played by DS Winsome Jackman. And I enjoyed watching from the sidelines as the various plot threads converged.

An excellent read.

My rating: 4.8

I've also reviewed
4.6, BAD BOY (2010)

22 March 2015

Review: DEAD RECKONING, Michael W. Smart

  • File Size: 914 KB
  • Print Length: 342 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00IY2U966
  • source: review copy from author 
  • #1 in the Bequia mystery series.
Synopsis (Amazon)


Gage didn't have friends. He'd led an emotionally isolated life, avoiding personal attachments, a mantra for survival. And the last thing he needed was disruption and exposure of the quiet retirement he'd settled into on Bequia, living aboard his schooner Wherever. He'd buried his past. Forged a new life.

And in doing so broke his cardinal rule, he'd formed attachments. A burgeoning romantic relationship with the island's police Superintendent Jolene Johanssen, whose love awakens dormant emotions and reconnects him to the world. A relationship he's unsure he's emotionally equipped to handle. And a close friendship with the discerning Commissioner of Police Mike Daniels, who perceives more regarding Gage's past than Gage is comfortable with. And who lies in a coma, fighting for his life.

In pursuing his friend's shooter Gage becomes embroiled in the vicious world of narco traffickers, money laundering, and a possible nemesis from his past, threatening to upend his new life, resurrect his inner demons, and put the people he's come to care about in the cross-hairs.

My take

At first there are two mysteries to solve: the attempted assassination of the Commissioner of Police, and the disappearance of a tourist, Natalie Holmes. Nicholas Gage feels that the two may be connected although he has no proof.

Mike Daniels' condition is critical, far more serious than the medical facilities on the island of Becquia can cope with. So Gage calls in some favors to get Daniels airlifted urgently to Miami. But that very act exposes Gage to threat, to exposure of what he retired from before he came to Becquia. And it exposes his friends to real danger.

On his return to the island Gage realises that he is being watched, and he sets up his own surveillance systems to protect his friends and loved ones, particularly his lover police Superintendent Jolene Johanssen.

Slowly bits of what Gage is hiding are revealed. The story is action packed, set against the beguiling waters of the Caribbean. There is a strong sense of place, a setting at once enchanting but also a cover to lethal activities including drug running.

My rating: 3.6

16 March 2015

Review: THE CARTER OF LA PROVIDENCE, Georges Simenon

  • File Size: 406 KB
  • Print Length: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (February 6, 2014)
    Originally published 1931
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141393467
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141393469
  • #4 in the Maigret series 
  • Translated by David Coward
  • Also published as LOCK 14
Synopsis (Amazon)

What was the woman doing here? In a stable, wearing pearl earrings, her stylish bracelet and white buckskin shoes! She must have been alive when she got there because the crime had been committed after ten in the evening.

But how? And why? And no one had heard a thing! She had not screamed. The two carters had not woken up.

Inspector Maigret is standing in the pouring rain by a canal. A well-dressed woman, Mary Lampson, has been found strangled in a stable nearby. Why did her glamorous, hedonistic life come to such a brutal end here? Surely her taciturn husband Sir Walter knows - or maybe the answers lie with the crew of the barge La Providence.

My Take

This novel was one of a number that Simenon wrote after spending 6 months on French canals in 1928.
In the setting he captures a life style now long gone, when the canal boats and barges played an important role in transporting goods to the major ports in France.

It also captures the rural isolation of many of the towns that the canals connected: the first murder scene is along a tow path, several kilometres from the nearest major town. Maigret has to walk there, and then manages to acquire a bicycle which he uses to travel up to 70 kilometres a day. Most of the boats are horsedrawn, with the horses stabled on the boats themselves. The days are long, beginning well before dawn, and finishing only at sunset. At one lock there are more than 60 barges waiting to go through. There's a glimpse too of the future, with motorised pleasure boats, taking preference over working boats at the locks.

The murderer in this story was convicted nearly thirty years before, of the murder of his aunt, and paid the penalty with transportation to French Guiana. There he shook off his former identity, and returned to France to a new life as a labourer. A chance meeting at a junction of canals leads to another murder. Maigret's intuition puts scattered bits of evidence together.

My rating: 4.3

I've also reviewed
4.4, MAIGRET & the MAN on the BOULEVARD

Review: DARK HORSE, Honey Brown

  • first published Penguin Group 2013
  • ISBN 978-1-921901-53-9
  • 274 pages
  • source: Mt TBR
  • Available on Amazon for Kindle
Synopsis (Penguin Australia)

It's Christmas morning on the edge of the rugged Mortimer Ranges. Sarah Barnard saddles Tansy, her black mare. She is heading for the bush, escaping the reality of her broken marriage and her bankrupted trail-riding business.

Sarah seeks solace in the ranges. When a flash flood traps her on Devil Mountain, she heads to higher ground, taking shelter in Hangman's Hut.

She settles in to wait out Christmas.

A man, a lone bushwalker, arrives. Heath is charming, capable, handsome. But his story doesn't ring true. Why is he deep in the wilderness without any gear? Where is his vehicle? What's driving his resistance towards rescue? The closer they become the more her suspicions grow.

But to get off Devil Mountain alive, Sarah must engage in this secretive stranger's dangerous game of intimacy.

My Take

The narrative is told from Sarah Barnard's point of view and so the reader shares Sarah's anxiety when a stranger comes out of the wild weather at the Hangman's Hut. The weather worsens and they are stranded on Devil Mountain for seven days between Christmas and New Year. There are things about Heath that don't seem to ring true, and although she and Heath become very intimate, Sarah feels he is not who he says he is. But then how much of her own story does Sarah tell?

Mid-story there is a twist that I really didn't see coming. Excellent psychological suspense.

My rating: 4.5

About the author
Honey Brown lives in country Victoria with her husband and two children. She is the author of four books: Red Queen, The Good Daughter, After the Darkness and Dark Horse. Red Queen was published to critical acclaim in 2009 and won an Aurealis Award, and The Good Daughter was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award and shortlisted for the Barbara Jefferis Award in 2011. After the Darkness was selected for the Women's Weekly Great Read and for Get Reading 2012's 50 Books You Can't Put Down campaign. Her fifth novel, Through the Cracks, was published in 2014.

13 March 2015

Review: ROSEMARY'S BABY, Ira Levin

  • Format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 380 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B000VZ1HI8
  • Publisher: Corsair (June 22, 2011), first published 1967
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0057GIRA2
Synopsis (GoodReads)

Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse, an ordinary young couple, settle into a New York City apartment, unaware that the elderly neighbors and their bizarre group of friends have taken a disturbing interest in them. But by the time Rosemary discovers the horrifying truth, it may be far too late!

My Take

I don't think I have ever seen the film (1968) based on this book, starring Mia Farrow. That was probably a good thing as I didn't know how the story ended.

The Introduction by Chuck Palahniuk prepared me a little though. He begins
    "Before Ira Levin, horror always happened soemwhere else... it was a comfort to know that real life-threatening horror never occurred at home. You had to be baited far, far away. For the century leading up to 1967 the real horrors had been elsewhere in the world, always outside the borders of England and the United States. If you stayed home you'd be safe... Home constituted this safe little island where women could raise children in domestic bliss."

But Ira Levin changed all that, for, on the very edges of crime fiction, ROSEMARY'S BABY  is a horror story, showing that there is no safety in your own home either.

There is a cinematographic quality to the action, and I kept imagining how chilling it would be on the silver screen.

During her early pregnancy Rosemary Woodhouse has incredible pain, and then peculiar dreams. A friend who warned her about the apartment house she and her husband have moved, is taken ill just before meeting with her, and then falls into a coma from which he never recovers. Rosemary thinks her husband has developed an unhealthy affection for their elderly neighbours but continues to trust Guy.

An interesting read.

My rating: 3.8

I've read this novel as my contribution to Past Offences #1967book meme of March this year.

12 March 2015

Review: THE HUNTING DOGS, Jorn Lier Horst

  • first published 2012 in Norwegian
  • published in English by Sandstone Press 2014
  • Translation by Anne Bruce
  • ISBN 978-1-908737-43-2
  • 323 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Amazon)

Winner of The Glass Key (top Nordic novel 2013) and winner of The Golden Revolver (top Norwegian crime novel 2012).

Seventeen years ago, William Wisting led the investigation into one of Norway's most widely publicized criminal cases, when the young Cecilia Linde was killed. Now it is discovered that evidence was planted and the wrong man convicted. Wisting is suspended and the media smell blood. William Wisting has spent his life hunting criminals, but now it is he who is hunted. To discover what really happened he must work alone and under cover, assisted only by his journalist daughter Line.

Then another young woman disappears.

My take

THE HUNTING DOGS is the eighth title published in the William Wisting series, the third to be published in English. Wisting is aged 52, the widowed father of grown up twins, a carerr policeman who has risen through the ranks to become Chief Inspector in the Criminal Investigation Department of Larvik Police, just as the author was. The setting is Vestfold county on the south-west coast of Norway. Wisting has recently added to his duties as head of CID by becoming a visiting lecturer at the recently opened police College campus at Stavern. A lecture he had given recently had been about ethics and morality, a topic that becomes the central focus of this novel.

The man who was convicted of murdering Cecilia Linde seventeen years before has served his time and has been released. He has always protested his innocence and now a hot-shot lawyer is convinced he can prove that the police planted the crucial evidence that resulted in the conviction.

Wisting has always been convinced of Rudolf Haglund's guilt but now he also becomes convinced that the cigarette butt that was crucial in the case was planted by someone close to him on the investigation. He realises that he, like others on his team, did not question the evidence closely enough, because they, like hunting dogs, were only concerned with bringing their quarry down. The Assistant Chief of Police, who seventeen years ago was the police prosecutor, is quick to step back, and to point out that Wisting was in charge of the investigation, and therefore that he must bear the full responsibility if there has been police corruption. If guilt is proven there is a hefty prison sentence.

This is a very readable book, although I question the extensive involvement of Wisting's daughter Line and her team in the case. I'm not sure enough of my case to say that it wouldn't happen here.

I'd love to read more by this author. The book carries with in a strong sense of setting and reality, and the characters are finely drawn.

My rating: 5.0

I've also reviewed
4.7, DREGS

6 March 2015

Review: AN EVENT IN AUTUMN, Henning Mankell

  • first published in Dutch in 2004, reprinted in Swedish 2013
  • English translation published 2014
  • translated from Swedish into English by Laurie Thompson
  • ISBN 978-1-846-55807-8
  • 169 pages
Synopsis ( Random House, UK)

Some cases aren’t as cold as you’d think
Kurt Wallander’s life looks like it has taken a turn for the better when his offer on a new house is accepted, only for him to uncover something unexpected in the garden – the skeleton of a middle-aged woman.

As police officers comb the property, Wallander attempts to get his new life back on course by finding the woman’s killer with the aid of his daughter, Linda. But when another discovery is made in the garden, Wallander is forced to delve further back into the area's past.

A treat for fans and new readers alike, this is a never before published Kurt Wallander novella

My Take

One of the best parts of this book, apart from the story, is the Afterword in which Henning Mankell explains how the story was published  and where it fits in the continuum of the Wallander stories. There is a longer section titled HOW IT STARTED, HOW IT FINISHED AND WHAT HAPPENED IN BETWEEN which is also worth reading. In it he talks about his relationship with Wallander, and how he feels about the depictions of Wallander in the three TV series that have been produced.

AN EVENT IN AUTUMN comes just before the last in the Wallander series, THE TROUBLED MAN, which I have yet to read. Wallander is living and working with his daughter Linda, with whom he has a rather crusty relationship. He is looking to buy a house and looks at one which Martinson's wife has inherited. He has made up his mind to buy the house when he stumbles over something in the back yard. The object turns out to be a skeletal hand sticking up out of the soil.

This is a novella and doesn't have the depth, or the number of plot lines, of a full blown novel. The characterisation is a bit thin, but nearly all the characters are those we have met in earlier novels. Nevertheless Wallander fans will enjoy it.

My rating: 4.5

I've also reviewed

Kurt Wallander (this list is from Euro Crime)
The numbers on the right indicate the correct order, while the dates are the order of publication in English
Faceless Killers19971
• The Dogs of Riga20012
The White Lioness19983
The Man Who Smiled20054
• Sidetracked19985
The Fifth Woman20006
• One Step Behind20027
The Pyramid (The Wallander Stories)20089
The Troubled Man201110

5 March 2015

Review: THE KIZUNA COAST, Sujata Massey

  • first published 2014
  • e-book review copy kindly supplied by the author
  • available for Kindle from Amazon
  • #11 in the Rei Shimura series
  • author website
Synopsis (author website)

When a devastating earthquake rocks Japan’s northeast coast, a tsunami follows and Rei Shimura is swept into her most rugged adventure yet.

The mystery begins with an SOS from Rei’s friend, the antiques dealer Mr. Ishida, trapped among thousands of displaced and dead on the Tohoku coast. Rei rushes to Tokyo, where she discovers Ishida Antiques may have been burglarized. Rei takes Mr. Ishida’s abandoned dog, Hachiko, on a volunteer bus to the ravaged town of Sugihama.

But Mr. Ishida’s got more work for her, since he lost contact with his antiques apprentice Mayumi and is frantic with worry. He won’t leave Sugihama without knowing the fate of the troubled 19-year-old girl from a famous lacquer-making family.

My take

Sujata Massey says
    Because of the real framework of the 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster, this book could probably qualify as a modern historical novel within the Rei mystery series.
As Rei Shimura ventures to the Tohoju coast in search of her mentor Ishida-san as a Helping Hand volunteer vivid description builds of the impact of the tsunami on coastal towns and villages, and of the way the Japanese community works together to rebuild lives. There is an authentic feel to the narrative which told me things about the tsunami that I had no way of knowing: the pervading smell of the rotting fish left behind as the water retreated, the stories of people who survived while those with them were washed away, the after shocks that continued for days, and so on.

Against this background Massey has woven the story of the search for Mayumi who disappeared after the earthquake, and then of Rei's search for justice.

It is always a delight to discover an author and enjoy your first read so much. It is like making a new friend.

My rating: 4.5

About the author

Sujata Massey was born in England to parents from India and Germany and grew up mostly in St. Paul, Minnesota. She holds a BA in Writing Seminars from Johns Hopkins University and started her working life as a features reporter for the Baltimore Evening Sun. After leaving the newspaper, she moved to Japan, where she studied Japanese, taught English and began writing her first novel, The Salaryman’s Wife. This novel became the first of many in the Rei Shimura mystery series, which has won Agatha and Macavity awards and been nominated for the Edgar, Anthony, and Mary Higgins Clark awards. Her August 2013 release, The Sleeping Dictionary, is a trade paperback with Simon & Schuster’s Gallery line, and also an audiobook published by Dreamscape. It’s the first in a series of historical suspense novels featuring Bengali women who each play a role in making modern India.
Sujata’s books have been published in more than 18 countries, and if she could redo her youth, she would have double-majored in history and a foreign language and spent a gap year (or two) abroad. Currently, she’s based near Washington, D.C. and can be contacted through these Internet sites: Facebook, Togather, and sujatamassey.com.

2 March 2015

Review: BY ITS COVER, Donna Leon

  • first published by William Heinnemann 2014
  • ISBN 978-0-434-02303-5
  • 237 pages
  • #23 in the Guido Brunetti series
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

In the pages of Donna Leon's internationally bestselling Commissario Guido Brunetti mysteries, the conversations of the Brunetti family have often turned to topics of art and literature, but books are at the heart of this novel in a way they never have been before.

One afternoon, Brunetti gets a frantic call from the director of a prestigious Venetian library. Someone has stolen pages out of several rare books. After a round of questioning, the case seems clear: the culprit must be the man who requested the volumes, a visiting American professor. But the man fled the library earlier that day, and after checking his credentials, it becomes clear that he is not who he said he was.

As the investigation proceeds, the suspects multiply. And when a seemingly harmless character turns up brutally murdered, Brunetti must question his expectations about what makes a man innocent, or guilty.

My Take

One of the things I enjoy about the Guido Brunetti novels is the way that they introduce issues that are of concern to the citizens of Venice as well as the focus on the crime being investigated.

Only a few pages into BY ITS COVER Brunetti is in a police boat on its way to a library where a theft has been discovered. Turning into the Grand Canal, there ahead of them is a huge cruise ship, perhaps eleven storeys high, with a wash that is causing waves to sweep over the landings and footpaths. This was an issue that hit the headlines in 2014 when cruise ships were first banned, and then when the ban was overturned by Venetian authorities because of the effects it would have on tourism.

Other issues raised: Brunetti's father in law is investing his considerable wealth in companies outside Italy; it seems that the theft of the pages from rare books is only the tip of the iceberg, and that the case that Brunetti is investigating is one of a systematic looting of Venetian treasures; Brunetti questions what is most valuable in these books - their text or the pictures that illustrate them - and why people collect them anyway.

This was an excellent read, certainly one of Donna Leon's best.

My rating: 4.7

I have also reviewed

Guido Brunetti
1. Death At La Fenice (1992)
2. Death in a Strange Country (1993)
3. The Anonymous Venetian (1994)      aka Dressed for Death
4. A Venetian Reckoning (1995)      aka Death And Judgment
5. Acqua Alta (1996)      aka Death in High Water
6. The Death of Faith (1997)      aka Quietly in Their Sleep
7. A Noble Radiance (1997)
8. Fatal Remedies (1998)
9. Friends in High Places (1999)
10. A Sea of Troubles (2001)
11. Wilful Behaviour (2002)
12. Uniform Justice (2003)
13. Doctored Evidence (2004)
14. Blood from a Stone (2005)
15. Through a Glass Darkly (2006)
16. Suffer the Little Children (2007)
17. The Girl of His Dreams (2008)
18. About Face (2009)
19. A Question of Belief (2010)
20. Drawing Conclusions (2011)
21. Beastly Things (2012)
22. The Golden Egg (2013)
23. By Its Cover (2014)
24. Falling in Love (2015)

What I read in February 2015

Crime Fiction Pick of the Month 2015
I managed to keep up a rate of a book every two days this month, with some excellent titles.
I've been reading mainly books from my local library and some vintage crime fiction e-books.
An attempt to read outside the crime fiction genre did not work for me.
  1. 4.3, A SLEEPING LIFE, Ruth Rendell - British police procedural, vintage fiction
  2. 5.0, HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN, Louise Penny  - Canadian author
  3. 4.0, DEATH OF A LIAR, M.C. Beaton - British cozy 
  4. 4.5, THE ART OF KILLING WELL, Marco Malvaldi - translated from Italian 
  5. 4.9, THE BACK ROAD, Rachel Abbott 
  6. 4.6, BEAST IN VIEW, Margaret Millar
  7. 4.5, MURDER ONE, Robert Dugoni - US courtroom drama 
  8. 3.8, THAT AFFAIR NEXT DOOR, Anna Katherine Green - vintage fiction
  9. 4.5, THE TERRORISTS, Maj Sjowall & Per Wahloo - translated
  10. 4.3, DEAD HEADING, Catherine Aird - British cozy 
  11. 2.0, THE BRONZE HORSEMAN, Paullina Simons - NOT crime fiction
  12. 4.7, THE DARK ROAD TO MERCY, Wiley Cash 
  13. 4.4, ANGLE OF INVESTIGATION, Michael Connelly
  14. 3.8, THEY FOUND HIM DEAD, Georgette Heyer - vintage fiction  
My Pick of the Month went to  HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN by Louise Penny

Check what others have chosen for this month.

1 March 2015

Review: MEDEA'S CURSE. Anne Buist

  • first published by Text Publishing Melbourne 2015
  • ISBN 9-781922-182647
  • 366 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (publisher)

Forensic psychiatrist Natalie King works with victims and perpetrators of violent crime. Women with a history of abuse, mainly. She rides a Ducati a size too big and wears a tank top a size too small. Likes men but doesn’t want to keep one. And really needs to stay on her medication.

Now she’s being stalked. Anonymous notes, threats, strangers loitering outside her house.

A hostile former patient? Or someone connected with a current case? Georgia Latimer—charged with killing her three children. Travis Hardy—deadbeat father of another murdered child, with a second daughter now missing. Maybe the harrassment has something to do with Crown Prosecutor Liam O’Shea—drop-dead sexy, married and trouble in all kinds of ways.

Natalie doesn’t know. Question is, will she find out before it’s too late?

Anne Buist, herself a leading perinatal psychiatrist, has created an edge-of-the-seat mystery with a hot new heroine—backed up by a lifetime of experience with troubled minds.

My Take

At first I found the characters and events of this story hard to get sorted. Natalie King leads a complex and busy life working on cases where mothers have been accused, even convicted, of murdering their children. It is all made more complex by her own bipolarism, supposedly kept under control by medication, if she remembers to take it. What happens when she doesn't is frightening to say the least. Natalie reports regularly to her supervisor Declan who attempts to provide therapy and controls to keep her focussed, but he can only work with what she tells him, or guess at what she is hiding from him.

Things become more complicated though when it appears that at least one of the fathers of the dead or missing children may be connected to a pedophile ring. Most of what Natalie knows is told to her in confidence and she struggles to know what she can pass on to the police without endangering her clients, to say nothing of endangering herself.

Throughout my reading of this novel I could not get out of my head MOTHERS WHO MURDER by Xanthe Mallett, a true crime book that I read last year. MOTHERS WHO MURDER looks at a number of Australian cases where the author feels there has been the possibility of a miscarriage of justice. I feel that this book and MEDEA'S CURSE have the same starting point in the real world, with the latter fictionalising a response from real events.

Anne Buist writes with an authority and confidence that makes the reader sure that these things do happen, even if they rarely surface in my world. This makes for a gritty and noir novel, not for the faint hearted.

My rating: 4.7

About the author

Professor Anne Buist is the Chair of Women’s Mental Health at the University of Melbourne and has over 25 years clinical and research experience in perinatal psychiatry. She works with Protective Services and the legal system in cases of abuse,kidnapping, infanticide and murder. Medea’s Curse is her first mainstream psychological thriller.

Crime Fiction Pick of the Month February 2015

Crime Fiction Pick of the Month 2015
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 2015, 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 -
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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