30 April 2015

SKELETON ROAD, Val McDermid - audio book

Synopsis (Audible)

When a skeleton is discovered hidden at the top of a gothic Victorian building in Edinburgh, which is scheduled for renovation, Cold Case Squad detective Karen Pirie is given the task of identifying the decades-old bones. Her investigation leads her back to past conflicts, false identities and buried secrets...

My Take
It is actually a while since I have read a Val McDermid novel, and where better to start than a stand alone? You'll notice that I have given this a "historical fiction" label, mainly because so much of this novel is bedded in the Balkan Wars of the 1990s. This is certainly one of those novels that sends you out to brush up on your history.

Although in one sense this is not a Cold case, because there is no previous case on the books, the skeleton discovered on the building rooftop has certainly been there for some time, and the bullet hole in the skull puts it in the murder category. Karen Pirie's first task is to identify it, and the second to work out who the murderer is. Modern technology and some good old-fashioned investigation helps Karen and her offsider Jason "the Mint" give the skeleton a name, but why has no-one reported him missing?

For me the novel is a reminder of what a superb story teller Val McDermid is.

My rating: 4.8

This is a replacement for a review that seems to have disappeared.

28 April 2015

Review: IN A DARK, DARK WOOD, Ruth Ware

  • first published by Harvill Secker Augustr 2015
  • ISBN 9781473512344
  • source: advance copy from publisher through NetGalley
  • Available from Amazon
Synopsis (NetGalley)

Someone's getting married. Someone's getting murdered.

In a dark, dark wood

Nora hasn't seen Clare for ten years. Not since Nora walked out of school one day and never went back.

There was a dark, dark house

Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare’s hen do arrives. Is this a chance for Nora to finally put her past behind her?

And in the dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room

But something goes wrong. Very wrong.

And in the dark, dark room....

Some things can’t stay secret for ever.

My Take

This is an excellent debut title. (note it is not being published until August 2015)

After hearing nothing from her friend Clare for ten years, Nora gets an invitation to Clare's hen do. She is not sure why Clare has invited her, particularly since she doesn't appear to have been invited to the wedding. 

The weekend is being spent at an isolated cottage in Northumbria and in the long run there are only six of them, including a male whom Nora has never met before. Nora realises this is not really going to be a fun weekend, particularly after she is told who Clare is marrying.

48 hours after arriving for the weekend Nora wakes up in a hospital bed, alive, but knowing that someone is dead. She tries to piece together what happened, and why the police appear to have a guard outside her door.

My rating: 4.8  

About the author

Ruth Ware grew up in Lewes, in East Sussex. After graduating from Manchester University she moved to Paris, before settling in north London. She has worked as a waitress, a bookseller, a teacher of English as a foreign language and a press officer. Married, with two small children, In a Dark, Dark Wood is her debut thriller.

25 April 2015

Review: TALKING TO THE DEAD, Harry Bingham

  • first published 2012 by Orion Books
  • ISBN 978-1-4091-4086-3
  • 377 pages
  • source: my local library
  • #1 in the Fiona Griffiths series
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)


At first, the murder scene appears sad, but not unusual: a young woman undone by drugs and prostitution, her six-year-old daughter dead alongside her. But then detectives find a strange piece of evidence in the squalid house: the platinum credit card of a very wealthy - and long dead - steel tycoon. What is a heroin-addicted hooker doing with the credit card of a well-known and powerful man who died months ago? This is the question that the most junior member of the investigative team, Detective Constable Fiona Griffiths, is assigned to answer.

But D.C. Griffiths is no ordinary cop. She's earned a reputation at police headquarters in Cardiff, Wales, for being odd, for not picking up on social cues, for being a little overintense. And there's that gap in her past, the two-year hiatus that everyone assumes was a breakdown. But Fiona is a crack investigator, quick and intuitive. She is immediately drawn to the crime scene, and to the tragic face of the six-year-old girl, who she is certain has something to tell her . . . something that will break the case wide open.

Ignoring orders and protocol, Fiona begins to explore far beyond the rich man's credit card and into the secrets of her seaside city. And when she uncovers another dead prostitute, Fiona knows that she's only begun to scratch the surface of a dark world of crime and murder. But the deeper she digs, the more danger she risks - not just from criminals and killers but from her own past . . . and the abyss that threatens to pull her back at any time.

My Take

We know from the very beginning that there is something rather odd about Fiona Griffiths. More than anything she wants to be accepted in "Planet Normal". Part of our job as a reader is to unravel why that is not happening.  Fiona gets a better understanding of herself when she is told by a friend that she has post traumatic stress disorder, but she can't work out what has triggered this.

We know that Fiona lost about two years of her life at the end of her schooling. Eventually we learn that Fiona was diagnosed at that time with a particular disorder. Is it Asberger's or something else?

But all this is not to say that Fiona Griffiths is not a valuable detective: as those who are in charge of her know, she needs careful management, but she has insights that no-one else seems capable of. And she tends not to do things by the book, to think outside the square, to act without thinking too much about the danger to herself.

This book is the story of Fiona's first murder case: she is drawn in by the murders of Janet, a part-time prostitute, and her six year old daughter April. She is convinced that Janet and April were in hiding at the time they died, but what were they hiding from? Is the credit card of a dead millionaire that Janet has in her possession a vital clue?

My rating : 4.4

About the author

Harry Bingham is a successful novelist and author of, amongst others, The Lieutenants Lover and Glory Boys. This Little Britain was his first work of non-fiction. He runs The Writers' Workshop, an editorial consultancy for first-time writers. His first novel was published in 200, and he now has had 9 novels published.
The Fiona Griffiths series
1. Talking to the Dead (2012)
2. Love Story, With Murders (2013)
3. The Strange Death of Fiona Griffiths (2014)
4. This Thing of Darkness (2015)

Anzac Day 2015

Today it is 100 years on from the Gallipoli Landing on April 25, 2015.
The world has been remembering World War One since late last year.

Off to a Dawn Service in a few minutes.

I've read only a few books related to the war since last year.

A FATAL TIDE, Steve Sailah

Adelaide War Memorial

Ode: To the Fallen

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables at home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

Laurence Binyon (1869–1943)

22 April 2015

Review: DEATH IN ECSTASY, Ngaio Marsh

  • Format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 1262 KB
  • Print Length: 752 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (July 18, 2013)
  • first published 1936
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00D0VYEB2
  • source: I bought it
Synopsis (Amazon)

Who slipped cyanide into the ceremonial wine of ecstasy at the House of the Sacred Flame? The other initiates and the High Priest claim to be above earthly passions. But Roderick Alleyn discovers that the victim had provoked lust and jealousy, and he suspects that more evil still lurks behind the Sign of the Sacred Flame…

My Take

This was #4 in Ngaio Marsh's Roderick Alleyn series (although Marsh's first novel was published only in 1934, two years earlier).
It features the team of Detective Inspector Alleyn, his offsider Fox, and journalist Nigel Bathgate. It all begins when Bathgate enters the House of the Sacred Flame, a new religious sect not far from his flat, in search of amusement, and witnesses the death of a woman from poisoning. She has been participating in a ceremony where a chalice of wine is handed around a small circle of people and is finally drunk by her. Bathgate catches the unmistakeable smell of bitter almonds.

Cara Quayne was an extremely wealthy woman who was known to have left most of her fortune to the House of the Sacred Flame and to it's priest. This was her first occasion as the Sacrificial Vessel. She had been training for a month for the event.

To make sure the reader is up to speed, Alleyn and Bathgate draw up a list of suspects with motives at least twice. The author drops a couple of large hints about the identity of the murderer, which I should have picked up but didn't. There's a matter of missing bearer bonds, addiction and drug running, and entrapment, but in the long run Alleyn would not have solved the case without help from a couple of suspects.

It is an interesting novel because there is mention of how other authors like Agatha Christie would have fleshed out a plot like this.

I have read this for my participation in Crime Fiction of the Year Challenge @ Past Offences

My Take: 4.2 

I have also reviewed

20 April 2015

Death of a Kindle

My poor Kindle 2, bought in 2009, gave notice of its imminent death last week.
It refused to come to life when I pushed the "wake me up" switch.
I could fool it into life by connecting it to the computer as if it was getting a life saving drink, and then it would activate when I pulled the umbilical cord out. However if I then left it unattended, it went back to sleep, and would not activate.

So I thought, can I do without it? I do read using the Kindle App on my iPad, but I do read nearly a quarter of my books as e-books. I find the iPad a bit cumbersome when lying on my side reading in bed, so I bit the bullet.

I now have a Paper White Kindle - because of the Australian $ exchange rate, it was a bit more expensive than I would have liked, but in contrast to my older Kindle 2, it is back lit (so I could, if I wanted to, read in the dark), and there are no buttons - I can just touch the side of the screen to get to the next page.

I'm still learning the rest of its features, but I am amused at the way it can tell me how much time a book will take me to read.

One thing I would like to know is whether I can copy the content of my Kindle2 into my Paper White. Any experiences?

19 April 2015

Review: THE LOST SWIMMER, Ann Turner

Synopsis (Net Galley)

Rebecca Wilding, an archaeology professor, traces the past for a living.

But suddenly, truth and certainty are turning against her. Rebecca is accused of serious fraud, and worse, she suspects – she knows – that her husband, Stephen, is having an affair.

Desperate to find answers, Rebecca leaves with Stephen for Greece, Italy and Paris, where she can uncover the conspiracy against her, and hopefully win Stephen back to her side, where he belongs. There’s too much at stake – her love, her work, her family.

But on the idyllic Amalfi Coast, Stephen goes swimming and doesn’t come back.

In a swirling daze of panic and fear, Rebecca is dealt with fresh allegations. And with time against her, she must uncover the dark secrets that stand between her and Stephen, and the deceit that has chased her halfway around the world.

My Take:

Rebecca Wilding is having a tough time at Coast University, particularly with the Dean of the Arts faculty, Professor Priscilla Chiton, who seems determined to make her life hell. Priscilla used to be a friend, but now Rebecca suspects she is having an affair with her husband Stephen, Professor of Economics. Rebecca also suspects that Stephen may be dabbling on the stock market again.

Suddenly things start to go very wrong when accounting irregularities crop up and Rebecca is accused of siphoning university funds into her own accounts.

There were some heart stopping moments in this thriller, particularly when they are driving a red sports car up a narrow road on the Amalfi Coast.

Stephen's disappearance leads to Rebecca becoming a chief suspect for his possible murder, and she goes on the run from the police, attempting to track him down in Paris, where she thinks he is meeting up with Priscilla.

A good read: a debut novel from a female Australian author.

My rating: 4.4

About the author (publisher)

Ann Turner is an award-winning screenwriter and director, avid reader, and history lover. She is drawn to salt-sprayed coasts, luminous landscapes, and the people who inhabit them all over the world. She is a passionate gardener. Her films include the historical feature Celia starring Rebecca Smart—which Time Out listed as one of the fifty greatest directorial debuts of all time, Hammers Over The Anvil starring Russell Crowe and Charlotte Rampling, and the psychological thriller Irresistible starring Susan Sarandon, Sam Neill, and Emily Blunt. Ann has lectured in film at the Victorian College of the Arts. Returning to her first love, the written word, in her debut novel The Lost Swimmer Ann explores themes of love, trust and the dark side of relationships. She is currently working on her second novel, Out of the Ice, a mystery thriller set in Antarctica. Ann was born in Adelaide and lives in Victoria.

17 April 2015

Review: TRACKING NORTH, Kerry McGinnis

  • first published by Penguin Group Australia in 2013
  • ISBN 978-1-921901-47-8
  • Available for Kindle
  • 346 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Penguin Australia)

Kelly Roberts finds refuge in the rugged and remote cattle country of northern Australia, but when tragedy strikes she is forced to find a new life for herself and her children outside of Rainsford Station.

She retreats to the family's only asset – a freehold block of land owned jointly by her eccentric father-in-law, Quinn. In the valley at Evergreen Springs, Quinn hopes the fractured family might all come together to start over again.

Life in Queensland's far north is wildly unpredictable, with daily challenges and the wet season, in all its wild majesty, to survive. But when twelve-year-old Rob makes the gruesome discovery of a dead body in the valley, real peril comes far too close to home.

Tracking North is a beautiful family story about life in the stunning Gulf Country, one of the world's most unique and fascinating places.

My Take

First of all,  this is a book on the very edge of crime fiction, on the soft edge one might say. Certainly there is a crime, and a murder, and some violence, but essentially it is a story abut a way of life in Australia, in the Far North, and a family making its way in a world that is changing rapidly.

Kerry McGinnis has obviously drawn on first hand experience of living and working in remote Queensland, and I couldn't help wondering how a non-Australian reader would see the landscape and life style that she describes. Perhaps it will be an eye opener.

I did enjoy the book, inveterate crime fiction reader that I am, much more than I expected to, even the romance that won its way in the end. And, as the friend who recommended it to me said, there is mystery, there is the odd puzzle to be solved.

My rating: 4.3

About the author

Kerry McGinnis was born in Adelaide and at the age of twelve took up a life of droving with her father and four siblings. The family travelled extensively across the Northern Territory and Queensland before settling on a station in the Gulf Country. Kerry has worked as a shepherd, droving hand, gardener and stock-camp and station cook on the family property Bowthorn, north-west of Mt Isa. She is the author of two volumes of memoir, Pieces of Blue and Heart Country, and the bestselling novels The Waddi Tree, Wildhorse Creek and Mallee Sky. Kerry now lives in Bundaberg.

Poll results: making book lists

I launched this poll a fortnight ago, asking whether many people were like me, compulsive list makers.

You can see from the results that I am certainly not alone.
In their comments, masny of the blog followers confessed that while they made lists, they, like me, didn't always follow them.

The reasons for making lists were varied
  • books to participate in a specific meme
  • books to take to the library, to the bookshop, or to search for online
  • to track favourite authors and interesting new authors
  • books to acquire and books already read
  • "buy later" lists
  • books to bring variety into reading, to prevent falling into a "rut"

15 April 2015

Last chance to take the poll about making reading lists

I have had a poll running on my blog for nearly two weeks now about whether you make lists of books to look for.
It closes within 24 hours, so if you haven't taken it, hop in there now.

Look in the right hand margin.
There is also a link where you can leave a comment.

14 April 2015

Review: WINTER SIEGE, Ariana Franklin & Samantha Norman

  • first published in 2104 by Bantam Press
  • ISBN 978-0593-07061-1
  • 356 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

A powerful historical novel by the late Ariana Franklin and her daughter Samantha Norman, The Siege Winter is a tour de force mystery and murder, adventure and intrigue, a battle for a crown, told by two courageous young women whose fates are intertwined in twelfth century England's devastating civil war.

1141. England is engulfed in war as King Stephen and his cousin, the Empress Matilda, vie for the crown. In this dangerous world, not even Emma, an eleven-year-old peasant, is safe. A depraved monk obsessed with redheads kidnaps the ginger-haired girl from her village and leaves her for dead. When an archer for hire named Gwyl finds her, she has no memory of her previous life. Unable to abandon her, Gwyl takes the girl with him, dressing her as a boy, giving her a new name - Penda - and teaching her to use a bow. But Gwyn knows that the man who hurt Penda roams free, and that a scrap of evidence she possesses could be very valuable.

Gwyl and Penda make their way to Kenilworth [Kenniford], a small but strategically important fortress that belongs to fifteen-year-old Maud. Newly wedded to a boorish and much older husband after her father's death, the fierce and determined young chatelaine tempts fate and Stephen's murderous wrath when she gives shelter to the empress.

Aided by a garrison of mercenaries, including Gwyl and his odd red-headed apprentice, Maud will stave off Stephen's siege for a long, brutal winter that will bring a host of visitors to Kenilworth [Kenniford] - kings, soldiers . . . and a sinister monk with deadly business to finish.
My Take

After the synopsis above, there is not a lot left to tell you about the plot of this novel. To my mind it is much more a historical novel than a crime fiction one, although certainly it does have mysteries. It is set in a fascinating period of English history when the country is torn apart by civil war, King Stephen vs his cousin the Empress Matilda. And the portrayal of this period has a real feeling of authenticity to it. It was a brutal time when nobility seem to have swapped sides readily, once they could see which way the wind was blowing.

The structure of the novel is interesting: at Perton Abbey the abbot is dying.
He has something important to do. he has to record a tale of treachery and murder, also a story of courage and love, before he too twirls off life's tree; yet he is too ill, too weak to write it himself.

And so he is assigned a young scribe to write it for him.

Samantha Norman completed this novel in tribute to her mother Ariana Franklin who unfortunately died in 2011.

My rating: 4.5

I've also reviewed

13 April 2015

Review: SLEEP TIGHT, Rachel Abbott

  • Format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 2674 KB
  • Print Length: 284 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0957652232
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • #3 in the DI Tom Douglas series

Synopsis (Amazon)

How far would you go to hold on to the people you love?

When Olivia Brookes calls the police to report that her husband and children are missing, she believes she will never see them again. She has reason to fear the worst; this isn’t the first tragedy that Olivia has experienced. Now, two years later, Detective Chief Inspector Tom Douglas is called in to investigate this family again, but this time it’s Olivia who has disappeared. All the evidence suggests that she was here, in the family home, that morning.

But her car is in the garage, and her purse is in her handbag – on the kitchen table. The police want to issue an appeal, but for some reason every single picture of this family has been removed from albums, from phones, from computers.

And then they find the blood…

Has the past caught up with Olivia?

Sleep Tight – if you can. You never know who’s watching.

My take

Rachel Abbott is one of my finds for this year - I have read all 3 in the DI Tom Douglas series. I thought that perhaps this one was marginally not quite as good as the earlier two, but it is still a page turner, and there is a little twist right at the end. There are little puzzles for the police to solve all the way through, and that keeps you reading.

Olivia Brookes' husband Robert needs to control every part of her life. He has been there whenever she needs him - when her lover disappears, when she needs to sell her house, when her parents die, when she becomes depressed, and when he best friend appears to desert her. But it takes Olivia a long time to begin to connect the dots. And then she realises the knife edge she and her children are living on.

My reason for saying this title is not quite as good as the earlier ones lies in the way bits of the plot strain the bounds of credibility. The structure is interesting: mainly a tale told from two points of view: Olivia's and Tom Douglas's, but occasionally we segway into Robert Brookes' mind as well.

Definitely worth adding to your list for this year.

My rating: 4.6

I've also reviewed

10 April 2015

Review: TWO BROTHERS, Ben Elton

  • first published in Great Britain in 2012 by Bantam Press
  • ISBN 978-0-593-06205-0
  • 522 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Random House)

Berlin 1920

Two babies are born.
Two brothers. United and indivisible, sharing everything. Twins in all but blood.

As Germany marches into its Nazi Armageddon, the ties of family, friendship and love are tested to the very limits of endurance. And the brothers are faced with an unimaginable choice....Which one of them will survive?

Ben Elton's most personal novel to date,Two Brothers transports the reader to the time of history's darkest hour.

Read a free chapter

My take

TWO BROTHERS is on the edge of crime fiction, but there is plenty of mystery. In 1956 Russian born British citizen John Stone, living and working in London in the Foreign Office as a translator, receives a letter from East Germany from his sister in law, whom he has thought of as dead for the past decade. MI5 is also interested in why he has received this letter. Do the Stasi in East Germany want to set him up as a spy, and who is the woman who has contacted him?

The setting gives Elton the opportunity to explore the past, to go back to the rise of Hitler, and the establishment of anti-Semitism as German government policy. So in a sense this is a historical novel, which gives a glimpse of what it was like to be a Jew in Berlin from the 1930s onwards.

Elton based this novel on the stories of his two uncles who fought on opposing sides in World War II.

This is a longer novel, but well worth the investment of time.

My rating: 4.7

I've also reviewed THE FIRST CASUALTY set in World War I

Update: British Books Challenge 2015

As I've remarked before, reading British crime fiction is not actually much of a challenge for me, because my local library has so much on offer, and I am hooked on so many authors.

British Books Challenge 2015
- mine will be crime fiction

Of the 44 books I've read this year, I have classified 17 as British.
Usually the classification relates to the author, although I do find it hard to put Peter Robinson's Banks series anywhere else, even though he is Canadian.

So my participation in the 2015 British Books challenge, being hosted by Fluttering Butterflies, is more record keeping than anything else, because I've already completed the initial challenge of reading 12 titles.

Here are the books I've read this year
  1. 4.8, ONLY THE INNOCENT, Rachel Abbott
  2. 5.0, ENTRY ISLAND, Peter May 
  3. 4.0, THE GOLDEN CLAW, Sax Rohmer  
  4. 4.6, THIN AIR, Ann Cleeves
  5. 4.7, PUT ON BY CUNNING, Ruth Rendell  
  7. 4.3, THE MONOGRAM MURDERS, Sophie Hannah  
  8. 4.3, A SLEEPING LIFE, Ruth Rendell
  9. 4.0, DEATH OF A LIAR, M.C. Beaton
  10. 4.9, THE BACK ROAD, Rachel Abbott   
  11. 4.3, DEAD HEADING, Catherine Aird
  12. 3.8, THEY FOUND HIM DEAD, Georgette Heyer 
  13. 4.8, ABATTOIR BLUES, Peter Robinson  (setting)  
  14. 4.5, SINS OF THE FATHER, Graham Hurley  
  15. 4.8, RUNAWAY, Peter May 
  16. 4.5, POIROT and me, David Suchet
  17. 4.4, HIS BURIAL TOO, Catherine Aird

9 April 2015

Update: Vintage Mystery Bingo 2015

Vintage Mystery BINGO 2015: Silver & Gold Edition

This is hosted by Bev at My Reader's Block.

* All books must be from the mystery category (crime fiction, detective fiction, espionage, etc.).  The mystery/crime must be the primary feature of the book--ghost stories, paranormal, romance, humor, etc are all welcome as ingredients, but must not be the primary category under which these books would be labeled at the library or bookstore.

*Challengers may play either the Silver Age or Golden Age Card—or both.
*BINGOS may be claimed by completing all spaces in a row--horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.  You may also claim a “Four Corner” BINGO by reading a book for each of the four corners plus two more spaces—any two.  A valid BINGO must have six complete spaces.

Golden Vintage - books written before 1960

  1. 4.0, THE GOLDEN CLAW, Sax Rohmer - with a colour in the title, published 1915
  2. 4.2, THE MAN WHO WATCHED THE TRAINS GO BY, Georges Simenon - one book that has been made into a movie, published in 1938 
  3. 4.2, THE CORNISH COAST MURDER, John Bude - a book that involves the clergy, published 1935
  4. 4.6, BEAST IN VIEW, Margaret Millar - a book set in the U.S. - published 1955  
  5. 3.8, THAT AFFAIR NEXT DOOR, Anna Katherine Green - a book with a detective "team" - published 1897 
  6. 3.8, THEY FOUND HIM DEAD, Georgette Heyer - a book with a professional detective - published 1935 
  7. 4.3, THE CARTER OF LA PROVIDENCE, Georges Simenon  - a book not set in US or England - published 1931
Silver Vintage: books written 1960 - 1989

  1. 4.7, PUT ON BY CUNNING, Ruth Rendell - a book with a detective team - published 1981
  2. 4.1, THE STEEL SPRING, Per Wahloo - a book you have to borrow - published 1968 
  3. 4.3, MURDER ON THE THIRTY FIRST FLOOR, Per Wahloo - a book set outside US or England - publ. 1964 
  4. 4.3, A SLEEPING LIFE, Ruth Rendellone book set in England or US - published 1978
  5. 4.5, THE TERRORISTS, Maj Sjowall and PerWahloo - book made into a film  (1994 Stockholm Marathon) - published 1975
  6. 3.8, ROSEMARY'S BABY, Ira Levin - a book that features a crime other than murder - publ. 1967 
  7. 4.4, HIS BURIAL TOO, Catherine Aird -a locked room mystery  - publ. 1973
I have created a special page for this challenge and I update that as I read a new book.

8 April 2015

USA Fiction Challenge continues in 2015

State by State - an ongoing challenge
Ever thought you would like to read your way across America?
The USA Fiction Challenge asks you to do just that.
Read just one novel from each state - you choose whether the link is the setting or the author.
You choose whether you confine yourself to a particular genre or not.

This was a challenge that I initiated last year and it is ongoing, you can do for as long as you like.

It has it's own site USA Fiction Challenge where you can sign up and then record what you've read.

I have my own record page here: I've covered 20 states so far.

create your own personalized map of the USA

I'm recording multiple books for each state, and all my books are crime fiction, but really you can schoose any genre,
This year I've read
  1.  4.3, MASTERMIND, Helen Goltz - Washington DC
  2.  4.5, MURDER ONE, Robert Dugoni - Seattle, Washington
  3. 3.8, THAT AFFAIR NEXT DOOR, Anna Katherine Green - New York 
  4. 4.7, THE DARK ROAD TO MERCY, Wiley Cash- North Carolina
  5. 4.4, ANGLE OF INVESTIGATION, Michael Connelly - California 
  6. 4.7, BY ITS COVER, Donna Leon - author birth place 
  7. 4.5, THE KIZUNA COAST, Sujata Massey -author residence 
  8. 3.8, ROSEMARY'S BABY, Ira Levin - New York 
  9. 3.6, DEAD RECKONING, Michael B. Smart - New York - author birthplace 
  10. 4.6, PAYING THE PIPER, Simon Wood - California (setting)

5 April 2015

Review: PAYING THE PIPER, Simon Wood

  • Format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 1007 KB
  • Print Length: 362 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (November 13, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007GFGST4
Synopsis (Amazon)

For years, the serial kidnapper known as the Piper got rich by abducting children from San Francisco’s wealthiest families.

When crime reporter Scott Fleetwood gets a call from a man identifying himself as the Piper and offers an exclusive interview, Fleetwood jumps at the chance. But the caller turns out to be a fake, and the rash decision costs the life of the real Piper’s latest victim.

For eight long years, Fleetwood has lived with unbearable guilt—and the enduring disdain of the entire Bay area. Now he hears from the real Piper—and it’s not for an interview. The kidnapper has the reporter’s son. But he doesn’t want money…he wants blood. And he’s going to use Fleetwood to get it.

In the tradition of Harlan Coben and Gregg Hurwitz, Simon Wood weaves a plot thick with suspense and heavy with action. Paying the Piper grabs hold from page one and doesn’t let go until new debts are paid and old scores settled.

My take

This is a gripping read, lots of hold-your-breath moments.

Scott Fleetwood has lived with the guilt of the Piper's last abduction eight years before. He had thought like a journalist rather than a human being and hesitation cost a child's life. The note on the victim's chest - "You are to blame" - said it all, but now, eight years on, the Piper brings it all much closer to home when he takes one of Scott's twin sons.

This story really is a roller coaster ride and there are some elements further down the track that will really take you by surprise.

My rating: 4.6

I've also reviewed: 4.3, ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN

4 April 2015

Do you make lists of books to read?

If you look in the right hand margin you will see that I am running a poll.

I am trying to determine what proportion of readers make plans about what they will read.
I know many bloggers are like me: they join Reading Challenges (or set their own), create lists of books to look out for, or similar.

But maybe you don't: you are one of those people who just go to the library or bookshop to select your next book.

Please take the poll and maybe leave a related comment on this post.

3 April 2015

Books on the Go

I've made a bit of reading progress since my last Books On the Go and I've linked those I've read to my reviews.
Of course I included in my reading for February and March quite a number of "spur of the moment" reads with the result that some books appear on my new list (see below). I actually read 11 out of the 21 that I had listed.  My new list has 25 titles on it.

audio books on the go
from my Kindle
review books
from the library
My New List
Plans, plans, plans

from the library
  • WINTER SIEGE, Ariana Franklin & Samantha Norman
  • TRACKING NORTH. Kerry McGinnis
  • ALPHABET HOUSE, Jussi Adler-Olsen
  • DEATH IN ECSTASY, Ngaio Marsh
  • THE JURY MASTER, Robert Dugoni
  • TALKING TO THE DEAD, Harry Bingham
  • TWO BROTHERS, Ben Elton
from Net Galley
  • EDEN, Candice Fox
  • ODD FELLOWS, Nicholas Shakespear
  • THE LOST SWIMMER, Ann Turner
from my TBR
  • PAVING THE NEW ROAD, Sulari Gentil
audio books on the go
  • THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, Paula Hawkins
from my Kindle
  • SLEEP TIGHT, Rachel Abbott
  • THE SECRET ARTS, Azmar Dar
  • PAYING THE PIPER, Simon Wood
  • IT HAPPENED IN EGYPT, Charles Norris Williams
review books
  • PAINTED BLACK, Greg Kihn
  • ONE TOO MANY, Maureen Jennings
  • THE FOURTH REICH, Helen Goltz
  • DEATH BY DISGUISE,, Helen Goltz

2 April 2015

What I read in March 2015

March 2015
I'm very pleased with the amount of reading I'm getting done, and also with the quality of most of the books.
The titles have been a mixture of recently published, review copies, and vintage crime fiction.

I even managed a non-fiction title this time too, although it was so closely linked to Agatha Christie that was not surprising.
My pick of the month was THE HUNTING DOGS by Jorn Lier Horst, translated from Norwegian, the
eighth title published in the William Wisting series, the third to be published in English.
Winner of The Glass Key (top Nordic novel 2013) and winner of The Golden Revolver (top Norwegian crime novel 2012).

See what others have chosen for their Pick of the Month.

Review: HIS BURIAL TOO, Catherine Aird

  • first published 1973, this edition reprinted by Rue Morge Press 2009
  • #5 in the C.D. Sloan series
  • ISBN 978-1-60187-038-4
  • 159 pages
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

In this crime novel by CWA Diamond Dagger winner Catherine Aird, Detective Inspector C. D. Sloan returns to solve a locked-room mystery, but he's thrown for a loop when a prominent industrialist turns up dead

On the hottest day in living memory, Richard Mallory Tindall, the owner of a patent firm, does not return home to Cleete village. When a man is found crushed to death, Tindall's case goes from missing person to homicide.

In the course of solving murder cases, Detective Inspector C. D. Sloan has seen all manner of ugly death. But there's something particularly gruesome about this one, the body crushed beneath the marble and iron of an old Saxon church tower. With rubble blocking off access to the crime scene, no one can get close enough to inspect the body. What little evidence is available - a burned match, a black thread, an earring - doesn't bode well for a quick and easy solution.

Even the legendarily cool-headed great detective might begin to crack when a second body turns up. And then an important file goes missing from Sloan's office. How does it all connect?

My Take

This is a delightful cozy. There are bodies of course but even their demise is scientifically achieved. In fact the whole plot of the novel is rather intricately based around patents, science, and secrets.

There's humour too and some interesting characters, ambition, and deception. Through all the author lays out the clues for the reader to sift through and to decide who the culprit is.

My rating: 4.4

I've also reviewed 4.3, DEAD HEADING

See more about Catherine Aird at the publisher site.
"Grounded as she was in the traditional mystery, it’s not surprising that her books reflect many of the aspects of mysteries from the Golden Age of detection (roughly 1913 to 1953) when fair play was the name of the game and the reader an active participant in uncovering whodunit."

1 April 2015

Crime Fiction Pick of the Month March 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 March 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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