28 February 2016

Review: DOWN AMONG THE DEAD MEN, Peter Lovesey

  • first published in Great Britain in 2015 by Sphere
  • ISBN 978-0-7515-5887-6
  • 377 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

A nightmare discovery in the boot of a stolen BMW plunges car thief Danny Stapleton into the worst trouble of his life. What links his misfortune to the mysterious disappearance of an art teacher at a private school for girls in Chichester?

Orders from above push Peter Diamond of Bath CID into investigating a police corruption case in the Chichester force, and he soon finds himself reluctantly dealing with spirited schoolgirls, eccentric artists and his formidable old colleague, Hen Mallin.

My Take

Peter Diamond's boss Georgina Dallymore has been asked by colleague Archie Hahn to investigate corruption charges against one of his DCIs. Hen Mallin has already been suspended and Hahn wants to know what he should do next. He is expecting Dallymore to really rubber stamp his decision at the same time as making what appears to be an impartial investigation.

Georgina takes Peter Diamond to Chichester with her to assist in the investigation. She really likes the sound of Dallymore & Diamond, detectives, but she lives in false hope if she thinks she can control Peter Diamond. What she doesn't realise is how he manipulates her.  Instead of focussing on Mallin's lapse Peter tries to work out how the body came to be in the boot of the BMW and that leads him to the real cause of why Hen Mallin has been suspended.

There are lots of tongue-in-cheek moments in this novel which made it a delight to read. Even the title is tarred with an ironic brush.

And I see there is another Peter Diamond title to look for this year.

My rating: 4.7

I've also read

The Peter Diamond series (Fantastic Fiction)
1. The Last Detective (1991)
2. Diamond Solitaire (1992)
3. The Summons (1995)
4. Bloodhounds (1996)
5. Upon A Dark Night (1997)
6. The Vault (1999)
7. Diamond Dust (2002)
8. The House Sitter (2003)
9. The Secret Hangman (2007)
10. Skeleton Hill (2009)
11. Stagestruck (2011)
12. Cop to Corpse (2012)
13. The Tooth Tattoo (2013)
14. The Stone Wife (2014)
15. Down Among the Dead Men (2015)
16. Another One Goes Tonight (2016)
Inspector Hen Mallin Investigation
1. The Circle (2005)
2. The Headhunters (2008) 

25 February 2016

Review: MISSING, Melanie Casey

  • first published in 2016 by Pantera Press Australia
  • source: review copy from publisher
  • ISBN 978-1-921997-53-2
  • 374 pages
  • #3 in Cass Lehmann series
  • Also available for Kindle from Amazon
Synopsis (publisher)

On any night, 1 person in 200 is homeless …

Someone is targeting Adelaide’s homeless. Men are disappearing off the streets, and body parts are turning up in a local dump.

Still haunted by her last run-in with a serial killer, Cass Lehman is trying hard to focus on the future. That’s not easy when she has the ‘gift’ of retrocognition … the ability to spontaneously re-live the last minutes of a person’s life.

Cass and Detective Ed Dyson are now trying to make a normal home together, but when she gets entangled in Ed’s latest case things are far from normal.

A twisted tale of love, desperation and murder ... When the psychic meets the psychotic, who will come out unscathed?

My take

Another novel set in Adelaide! The city is recognisable and this novel clings to the reputation that strange and gruesome murders occur in this "City of Churches".

I'm not quite sure how I have missed seeing earlier novels by this author. So I really read this as a stand alone and it worked quite well. There was enough back story for me to be able to make sense of what had happened in the past, and in previous stories.

Readers are required to suspend their disbelief in paranormal powers because Cass Lehman's matrilinear line all have "powers" of a sort. Cass has apparently used hers in the past to assist the police. The experiences are draining ones for her, and sometimes occur unpredictably.

This is a fairly grisly tale, with a number of bags of body parts being found in a dump at McLaren Vale, the wine growing district south of Adelaide. The evidence begins to point strongly to one person as the perpetrator but it is still up to Cass and Ed to prove the case.

A good read, with some fine bits of suspense.

My rating: 4.5

About the author

Melanie Casey was born and lives in South Australia with her two young children and her husband (who didn’t know he was marrying a writer when he walked down the aisle).

After studying English Literature and Classical Studies, Melanie shifted to Law, and now works in government.

A chance meeting with a highschool English teacher in the supermarket made Melanie realise that she should be doing what she’d always loved, writing! Another period of study, this time at the Professional Writing School of Adelaide’s College of the Arts ensued, helping Melanie acquire the skills she needed to put her plan into action.

Hindsight is her debut novel, the first in a crime trilogy featuring Cass Lehman and Detective Ed Dyson. The second in the series, Craven, was released in 2014. The third installment, Missing, was released in 2016.

20 February 2016

Review: TWISTER, Jane Woodham

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 1045 KB
  • Print Length: 293 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Rosa Mira Books (December 10, 2015)
  • Publication Date: December 10, 2015
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0197IIIUE
  • source: review copy from the publisher 
 Synopsis (publisher)

Dunedin, in the grip of an unseasonal flu, is a city under siege. Then, after five damaging days of rain, a twister rips through, exposing the body of a missing schoolgirl in Ross Creek.

Detective Senior Sergeant Leo Judd is the only one who can lead the investigation despite unresolved sorrow over the disappearance of his own daughter nine years earlier.

Sultry weather broods over the beleaguered city as suspects are sifted and pressure mounts for Leo to solve the crime. Meanwhile, his wife Kate tries to summon the courage to tell him the secrets she’s nursed for too long — including one about the disappearance of their beloved Beth.

My Take

In late February Dunedin has a flu epidemic, but also unusually muggy heat, followed by 5 days of torrential rain. And finally comes the twister, a black funnel churning in from the sea and smashing into the town. The weather brings to the surface of the local creek the body of a teenage girl who has been missing for just a few days. The chief investigator in the Wenlock case has succumbed to the flu and so the case is handed over to DSS Leo Judd. And the case brings with it the memory of his own daughter who went missing nine years earlier. Is Leo the best person for the job? That is what the local paper asks.

On the surface this is a police procedural but there is a lot going on. In the nine years since Beth disappeared Leo Judd's marriage has become increasingly sterile and his wife Kate is contemplating leaving him. Leo is unaware of this but doesn't know what to do to improve things anyway.
There are several leads in the Tracey Wenlock case and as they are being investigated another girl disappears. Judd's investigation keeps pointing to the same person as being involved but he seems to be well alibied.

This novel is an impressive debut by a new New Zealand author. I hope we see more of her, but it is a little difficult to see this one as the beginning of a series.

My rating: 4.8

About the author
Jane Woodham moved in 1998 from London to Dunedin, New Zealand, where she has been writing for the past nine years. Jane’s work has twice been shortlisted for the BNZ Literary Awards and has been published in New Zealand and the UK.
A New Zealand Society of Authors mentorship in 2014 allowed Jane to work with crime writer Paddy Richardson on the final draft of Twister, her first novel.
Some events in Twister occur around the Dunedin Hot Salt Water Pool, where Jane is a regular swimmer. She is also a keen gardener, cook and fair-weather surfer.

Review: Agatha Christie: THE LOST PLAYS - Audio book

Synopsis (Audible

A triple bill of archive BBC radio dramas, believed lost for over half a century and only recently rediscovered. "Butter in a Lordly Dish", written specially for radio in 1948, features Richard Williams as Sir Luke Enderby KC, whose infidelities lead him into trouble when he goes to meet his latest flame.

Williams also stars as Hercule Poirot in "Murder in the Mews", a 1955 adaptation of a short story. A young woman is found dead in her flat the day after Guy Fawkes night. Did she die by her own hand or someone else's?

In "Personal Call", also written specially for radio by Agatha Christie, a disturbing telephone call from a woman named Fay has consequences for both Richard Brent and his wife, Pam. This 1960 production stars Ivan Brandt and Barbara Lott.

My Take

I had already read Murder in the Mews as a short story, but had never heard of the other two plays. In both cases the plot was a predictable, although Personal Call has elements of the paranormal about it. These BBC radio dramas were aimed at 30 minute time slots.

This audio book also contains an interview with Agatha Christie about her writing strategies, and then another with one of the cast of The Mouse Trap.

I think what was unusual about this particular production is that two of the plays were actually written by Christie as plays, not short stories. Other BBC radio plays were actually dramatisations, not by Christie herself, of short stories. In the interview she says that she enjoyed writing plays, and disliked trying to dramatise her short stories.

My rating: 4.0

I listened to these in conjunction with the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge

18 February 2016

Review: THE SANTA KLAUS MURDER, Mavis Doriel Hay - audio book

Synopsis (Audible

Aunt Mildred declared that no good could come of the Melbury family Christmas gatherings. So when Sir Osmond Melbury, the family patriarch, is discovered - by a guest dressed as Santa Klaus - with a bullet in his head on Christmas Day, the festivities are plunged into chaos.

Nearly everybody stands to reap some sort of benefit from his death excepting Santa Klaus, the one person who seems to have had every opportunity to fire the shot. Various members of the family have their private suspicions about the murderer, and the Chief Constable of Haulmshire wishes before long that he understood them better.

In the midst of mistrust, suspicion and hatred, it emerges that there was not one Santa Klaus but two.

My Take

A variant on a closed room murder mystery, the story is told from the point of view of a number of characters, but principally from that of the Chief Constable, a friend of the family, who seems determined to leave no investigative stone unturned. The result is a rather pedantic and plodding tale where this reader at least kept wondering when it was all going to finish. I'd come to my conclusion long before the Colonel had come to his, but his was no intuitive leap. He wanted every i dotted and every t crossed. He wasn't helped by the fact that very few of the family in residence for Christmas actually told the truth.

My Rating: 3.7

I've also read

About the author
Mavis Doriel Hay (1894-1979) was a novelist of the golden age of British crime fiction. Her three detective novels were published in the 1930s and are now rare and highly collectable books. She was an expert on rural handicraft and wrote several books on the subject. 


16 February 2016

Review: LONDON'S GLORY, Christopher Fowler

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • to be published March 29, 2016
  • source: made available as an ARC through NetGalley by Random House Publishing Group - Alibi
  • ISBN 9781101968871
Synopsis (NetGalley)

Arthur Bryant and John May of the Peculiar Crimes Unit are London's craftiest and bravest detectives—and there's no better pair to solve the city's most confounding crimes. In this riveting eBook collection of mystery short stories, available together for the first time, Christopher Fowler takes Bryant and May on a series of twisting adventures and brings readers behind the scenes of his beloved novels.

Includes a preview of Christopher Fowler's new Peculiar Crimes Unit mystery, Bryant & May and the Burning Man!

In “Bryant & May in the Field,” a woman is found with her throat slashed in a snowy park, yet the killer managed to escape without leaving any footprints. In “Bryant & May and the Nameless Woman,” a businessman drowns in the pool of a posh club, and the only suspect is a young woman who remains almost too calm during questioning. And in “Bryant & May Ahoy!” the pair go on holiday on a friend's yacht in Turkey, but Bryant realizes there's something fishy about their fellow passengers. From London's grandest mansions to its darkest corners, from the Christmas department of Selfridges to a sinister traveling sideshow, there's no scene too strange for the Peculiar Crimes Unit and the indefatigable detectives at its helm. 

My take

Followers of the Bryant & May series will enjoy not only these rather quirky short stories but also Christopher Fowler's introduction in which he talks about why crime fiction remains popular. In the UK crime fiction accounts for more than a third of all fiction published. He comments though that many books were "interchangeable" and lacking in originality. He discusses what he considers were the good points of Golden Age crime fiction. He gives insights into the creation of the Bryant & May series and the projects he set himself in the writing of each novel. At the end of the book we are treated to a synopsis of each of the series' titles, including the backstory that led to its creation.

The central focus of this book is 11 very individual, sometimes quirky, short stories drawn from the whole span of the sleuths' careers. Each story is preceded by a summary of why the story was written or what Fowler was trying to do. Some of the stories are very good but some challenge the bounds of credibility.

In all though, a "must have" book which gives a lot of interesting back ground material for followers of this series.

My rating:  4.4

I've also read

4.7, THE BURNING MAN - #12

15 February 2016

And so the list grows

TBRN - To Be Read Next - lists to give me direction
but I often ignore them :-)

I am never short of reading but the list below makes me feel a bit like a kleptomaniac! Anybody want to lend me a deserted island/

Library Book
  • DOWN AMONG THE DEAD MEN, Peter Lovesey
from Net Galley
  • KILLING ADONIS, Josh Donellan
  • KING MAYBE, Tim Hallinan
  • NO FREE MAN, Graham Potts
  • LONDON'S GLORY, Christopher Fowler
  • THE BIG BRUSH OFF, Michael Murphy
  • PAINTED BLACK, Greg Kihn
  • The Pot Thief Who Studied Georgia O'Keeffe, J. Michael Orenduff
from my TBR
  • DIE WITH ME, Elena Forbes
audio books on the go
  • THE SANTA KLAUS MURDER, Muriel Doriel Hoy
  • MYSTERY IN WHITE, J. Jefferson Farjeon
from my Kindle
  • THE TRIGGER, L. J. Sellers
  • SOURDOUGH WARS, Julie Smith
  • ON THE LIP OF A LION, Roy Jenner
  • KILLER'S ISLAND, Anna Jannson
  • MIDNIGHT SUN, Jo Nesbo
  • THE BLACK PILL, Gino Cox
  • THE DYNAMITE ROOM, Jason Hewitt
  • THE RESISTANCE MAN, Martin Walker
  • THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER'S WEB, David Lagercrantz
  • IT HAPPENED IN EGYPT, Charles Norris Williams
review books
  • BROKEN ANGELS, Russell Heath
  • THE SECRET ARTS, Azmar Dar
  • MISSING, Melanie Casey
  • THE FALLING DETECTIVE, Christopher Carlsson
  • TWISTER, Jane Woodham
  • IN THE DARK, Chris Patchell
  • LOST IN NEW YORK, J.J. Henderson
  • THE GOLDILOCKS PLANET, Paula Bernstein
  • ONE TOO MANY, Maureen Jennings
  • THE FOURTH REICH, Helen Goltz
  • DEATH BY DISGUISE,, Helen Goltz

14 February 2016

Review: BOGMAN, R.I. Olufsen

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 1623 KB
  • Print Length: 292 pages
  • Publisher: Crux Publishing (July 1, 2015)
  • Publication Date: July 1, 2015
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • source: review copy provided by Crux Publishing to reviewers at  Library Thing
Synopsis (Amazon)

When a mummified foot, a pile of bones and a split skull are discovered in a Danish bog, is it a case for the police or archaeologists? It becomes a case for Chief Inspector Tobias Lange when it is confirmed the remains are those of a young male, early twenties, beaten to death with a blunt instrument about two decades earlier.

Tobias finds himself on the trail of eco-warriors, Sami protesters safeguarding reindeer rights in Lapland and a disaffected young woman estranged from her family. Then another incomplete set of human bones turns up, and then another. When the trail takes a turn into a murky world of sex trafficking and illegal immigrants, Tobias starts to fear for his eco-warrior daughter Agnes…

My Take

I'm still recovering from the discovery that this is not a translated work (See the About the author below). My suspicions were first aroused by not being able to find the name of the translator.

Most readers will recognise the story of the find of Tollund Man, but it quickly becomes obvious that this body in the bog is that of a much more recent murder. The name of the person, an eco-warrior, is discovered and then the focus shifts to his girlfriend who also disappeared at the same time. Well, she appears to have disappeared, but sends her mother an annual email. So is she still alive, and just in hiding?

History is repeating itself. Young people are protesting against environmental desecration again but this time Tobias Lange's own daughter is involved in the protest. Apart from that the same developer is the cause of the protest.

Quite a satisfying read, a police procedural with a good feeling of authenticity. Other issues surface too:
illegal immigrants lured to work in Denmark's sex trade; limited police resources; arms of government that work in isolation and pursue their own agendas.

My rating: 4.4

About the author

R.I. Olufsen has a background in investigative journalism and broadcasting. She enjoys travel, good food, golf and literary puzzles. BOGMAN is her first crime novel. 

The author's name is an alias for Irish broadcaster and author Roisin McAuley who has taken the suitably Scandinavian-sounding pen name RI Olufsen for her new thriller Bogman (2015). It's the first in a series featuring Danish detective Tobias Lange.

11 February 2016

Review: LOCK NO. 1: Inspector Maigret #18

  • Vformat: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 646 KB
  • Print Length: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; Tra edition (April 2, 2015)
  • Publication Date: April 2, 2015
    originally published 1933
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • #18 in the Maigret series
Synopsis (Amazon)

A new translation of Georges Simenon's novel set in claustraphobic provincial town, book eighteen in the new Penguin Maigret series.

Cars drove past along with the trucks and trams, but by now Maigret had realised that they were not important. Whatever roared by like this along the road was not part of the landscape. ... What really counted was the lock, the hooting of the tugs, the stone crusher, the barges and the cranes, the two pilots' bars and especially the tall house where he could make out Ducrau's red chair framed by a window.

Penguin is publishing the entire series of Maigret novels in new translations. This novel has been published in a previous translation as The Lock at Charenton.

My take

Maigret is called to investigate what has happened in this small provincial town on the outskirts of Paris. Somebody has apparently attempted to murder Ducrau, a local businessman whose business concerns are the basis of the town's economy. He has been stabbed in the back and then tossed into the canal. By chance he is rescued and seems little the worse for wear but Maigret senses that events have not run their course, so he hangs around.

Indeed Ducrau's son then commits suicide and a lock keeper is murdered, so there is a case to sort out.

Maigret has applied for and been granted early retirement (that came as a surprise to me as this is relatively early on in the series), so this will very likely be his last case. He doesn't particularly want to return home as Mrs Maigret has been packing up the house, even the bed, and they are moving to a cottage on the River Loire. Ducrau thinks he sees a kindred spirit in Maigret and offers him a job on his retirement, more or less as a security officer. But Ducrau is not a nice man and Maigret can't see himself working for him. In fact he is looking forward to his retirement, he thinks.

This is quite a heavy, dark feeling, novel. While Ducrau runs his businesses in a very hands-on way, and is well known, he is far from popular. His family and servants live in fear of him, and many people have reason to wish him harm. This is a fairly "typical" Maigret novel, with lots of psychological overtones.

My rating: 4.3

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

9 February 2016

Review: EVEN THE DEAD, Benjamin Black

  • published by Penguin Random House 2015
  • ISBN 978-0-241-19734-9
  • source: my local library
  • #7 in the Quirke series
  • 262 pages
  • author website
Synopsis (author website)

A suspicious death, a pregnant woman suddenly gone missing: Quirke's latest case leads him inexorably toward the dark machinations of an old foe

Perhaps Quirke has been down among the dead too long. Lately the Irish pathologist has suffered hallucinations and blackouts, and he fears the cause is a brain tumor. A specialist diagnoses an old head injury caused by a savage beating; all that's needed, the doctor declares, is an extended rest. But Quirke, ever intent on finding his place among the living, is not about to retire.

One night during a June heat wave, a car crashes into a tree in central Dublin and bursts into flames. The police assume the driver's death was either an accident or a suicide, but Quirke's examination of the body leads him to believe otherwise. Then his daughter Phoebe gets a mysterious visit from an acquaintance: the woman, who admits to being pregnant, says she fears for her life, though she won't say why. When the woman later disappears, Phoebe asks her father for help, and Quirke in turn seeks the assistance of his old friend Inspector Hackett. Before long the two men find themselves untangling a twisted string of events that takes them deep into a shadowy world where one of the city's most powerful men uses the cover of politics and religion to make obscene profits.

Even the Dead—Benjamin Black's seventh novel featuring the endlessly fascinating Quirke—is a story of surpassing intensity and surprising beauty.

My Take

Let me say first of all that I haven't read all the titles in this series (see the list below). While EVEN THE DEAD is not a stand alone, there is enough background detail in it to assist the new reader, and perhaps to encourage them to read previous titles.

Quirke has not been in to work for some months but his assistant feels in serious need of his opinion about the death in a burning car in Phoenix Park. This appears to be the prompt that Quirke needs to get back to work but even then he does not appear to take up the reins full time. He in turn consults his friend Inspector Hackett and they pursue the clues as they arise.

There is a lot of exploration of relationships: Quirke's with his own daughter Phoebe, Phoebe's own with her new boss, Quirke's with his half brother Malachy Griffin, new friendships, and eventually Quirke gets confirmation of his own parentage.

Another good read, and another author for you to look for if you haven't already "discovered" him.

My rating: 4.7

I have also read

Benjamin Black is the pseudonym of John Banville.
Among the awards John Banville's novels have won are the Allied Irish Banks fiction prize, the American-Irish Foundation award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Guardian Fiction Prize. In 1989 The Book of Evidence was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and was awarded the first Guinness Peat Aviation Award; in Italian, as La Spiegazione dei Fatti, the book was awarded the 1991 Premio Ennio Flaiano. Ghosts was shortlisted for the Whitbread Fiction Prize 1993, The Untouchable for the same prize in 1997. In 2003 he was awarded the Premio Nonino. He has also received a literary award from the Lannan Foundation in the U.S. He won the Man Booker Prize 2005 for The Sea

Macavity Awards Best Novel nominee (2007) : Christine Falls

Edgar Awards Best Novel nominee (2008) : Christine Falls

The Quirke series
1. Christine Falls (2006)
2. The Silver Swan (2007)
3. Elegy for April (2010)
4. A Death in Summer (2011)
5. Vengeance (2012)
6. Holy Orders (2013)
7. Even the Dead (2015)

7 February 2016

Review: COFFIN ROAD, Peter May

  • first published by Quercus 2016
  • ISBN 978-1-78429-309-3
  • 390 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (publisher)

A man stands bewildered on a deserted beach on the Hebridean Isle of Harris. He cannot remember who he is. The only clue to his identity is a folded map of a path named the Coffin Road. He does not know where this search will take him.

A detective from Lewis sits aboard a boat, filled with doubt. DS George Gunn knows that a bludgeoned corpse has been discovered on a remote rock twenty miles offshore. He does not know if he has what it takes to uncover how and why.

A teenage girl lies in her Edinburgh bedroom, desperate to discover the truth about her scientist father's suicide. Two years on, Karen Fleming still cannot accept that he would wilfully abandon her. She does not yet know his secret.

My Take

Peter May has become, for me, one of those authors I know I will enjoy. The plots are often multi-stranded, quirky, and sometimes connected to some environmental issue. Like this one is, but you'll have to read some of the book at least to find out which issue.

Neal Maclean comes back to consciousness lying saturated on a deserted beach. His vest tells him he has been in a boat. He knows this is the Hebrides but nothing else. He staggers to his feet and makes his way to a cottage. An elderly woman addresses him by name and walks him to his own cottage. He is met by a dog that recognises him. From that point on he ransacks his cottage for clues to his identity and some neighbours help him fill in some of the details while he waits for his memory to return.

From that point on you always know that this subplot is going to connect somehow to the other two outlined in the blurb on the back of the book, but, as you expect, the path is not straightforward. You race to read on, to make the connections for yourself.

I seem to be saying it a lot lately, but this is another excellent read. Peter May is another to put on your list of authors not to be missed.

My rating: 4.9

I've also read
4.8, RUNAWAY  

4 February 2016

Review: WHAT SHE NEVER TOLD ME, Kate McQuaile

  • source: Review copy from Hachette Australia at NetGalley
  • first published in Great Britain in 2016, publication date March 8, 2016
  • pre-order available from Amazon
Synopsis (Publisher)

What do you do when you find out that your whole life could be a lie?

I talked to my mother the night she died, losing myself in memories of when we were happiest together. But I held one memory back, and it surfaces now, unbidden. I see a green postbox and a small hand stretching up to its oblong mouth. I am never sure whether that hand is mine. But if not mine, whose?

Louise Redmond left Ireland for London before she was twenty. Now, more than two decades later, her heart already breaking from a failing marriage, she is summoned home. Her mother is on her deathbed, and it is Louise's last chance to learn the whereabouts of a father she never knew.

Stubborn to the end, Marjorie refuses to fill in the piecesof her daughter's fragmented past. Then Louise unexpectedly finds a lead. A man called David Prescott . . . but is he really the father she's been trying to find? And who is the mysterious little girl who appears so often in her dreams? As each new piece of the puzzle leads to another question, Louise begins to suspect that the memories she most treasures could be a delicate web of lies.

My Take

I know the year is only a month old, and I've only read 15 books so far, but this really is the best I've read so far, and it will be hard to beat. You know what happens when a book grabs you, and you seize every opportunity to read a few more pages?

Written in the first person, this novel gets you in right from the first word. There are little puzzles for the reader to solve as we try to fill in the story of Louise's life. At her mother's funeral she meets an uncle whom she can't remember ever meeting before. He has some photographs he would like to give her and she promises to visit him. But the solicitor who holds the will can't answer the most desperate question Louise has: how to find her father. She knows his name but nothing else.

A great read, with lots of twists and turns, believable characters and scenarios.

My rating: 4.9

About the author
Kate McQuaile is a graduate of the Faber novel-writing course. She lives in London and works as a journalist, but is originally from Drogheda in Ireland.

2 February 2016

Review: MURDER ON THE HOUR, Elizabeth J. Duncan

  • source: review e-book from NetGalley
  • to be published April 2016 by Minotaur Books, 304 pages
  • #7 in the Penny Brannigan Mystery series
  • available for pre-order from Amazon.
Synopsis (NetGalley)

The residents of Llanelen are brimming with excitement. Antiques Cymru, a regional take on the popular national TV show, is coming to the Welsh town and people are flocking from miles around, hoping their attic treasures turn out to be worth a fortune. On the day of filming, quiet local sheep farmer Haydn Williams brings a generations-old long-case clock for evaluation, while the woman he's always admired from afar, Catrin Bellis, turns up with a cherished handmade quilt. Will either hear surprising good news about the value of their family heirlooms? By the end of the day, Catrin turns up dead, her quilt missing.

Who could have wanted this shy, quiet woman - who had been overshadowed by her parents for her whole life - dead? Delving into Catrin's past, spa owner and amateur sleuth Penny Brannigan is surprised to discover that Catrin had at least one enemy. And as Penny's romantic life heats up with a new love interest, she realizes that a mysterious document hidden in Haydn's clock could hold the key to a long-forgotten secret and a present-day murder.

Murder on the Hour is a light-hearted traditional mystery featuring a charming heroine set in an enchanting Welsh town

My take

All of the novels in this series are set in the small fictional Welsh town of Llanelin and feature Penny Brannigan, part owner of a local beauty salon known as The Spa, her friend and partner Victoria, and D.I. Gareth Davies.

In MURDER ON THE HOUR, Gareth Davies has recently retired and Penny isn't seeing so much of him. The main action centres around the coming of popular national tv show, Antiques Cymru, to the town. People search for an object or two they can present for evaluation and maybe a chance to be featured on television.

The novel has all the elements of an entertaining cozy, and works quite well as a stand-alone, although I undoubtedly would have been better off had I read any of the earlier novels. Nothing happens in this small town without most of the residents being aware of it, and yet a murder takes place, and there are few clues why.

My rating: 4.3

About this author
Elizabeth J. Duncan has worked as a writer and editor for some of Canada's largest newspapers, including the Ottawa Citizen and Hamilton Spectator. She lives with her dog, Dolly, in Toronto where she teaches in the public relations program at Humber College. She enjoys spending time each year in North Wales and is the first Canadian writer to win the Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition. The Cold Light of Mourning, her first novel, is also the winner of the William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic Grant and was shortlisted for an Agatha and an Arthur Ellis Award.

Penny Brannigan Mystery (Fantastic Fiction list)
1. The Cold Light of Mourning (2009)
2. A Brush with Death (2010)
3. A Killer's Christmas in Wales (2011)
4. A Small Hill to Die On (2012)
5. Never Laugh As a Hearse Goes By (2013)
6. Slated for Death (2015)
7. Murder on the Hour (2016)

What I read in January 2016

January 2016
I've made a cracking start to the year as you will see from the list below: quite a few Aussie authors, an d a number of new-to-me authors.

January 2016

  1. 4.4, KING OF THE ROAD, Nigel Bartlett - Aussie author
  2. 4.3, THE DROWNING POOL, Ross Macdonald  
  3. 4.3, GOOD MONEY, J. M. Green - Aussie author
  4. 4.5, EDGE OF WILD, D.K. Stone 
  5. 4.8, THE BLOOD STRAND, Chris Ould 
  6. 4.3, GHOST GIRLS, Cath Ferla- Aussie author 
  7. 4.5, ONLY TIME WILL TELL, Jeffrey Archer 
  8. 3.5, DUCK SEASON DEATH, June Wright - Aussie author 
  9. 4.2, THE CRIME AND THE CRYSTAL, Elizabeth Ferrars - set in Adelaide 
  10. 4.2, VENGEANCE IS MINE, Joanne Fluke - set in Minnesota 
  11. 4.2, THE UNFUR-TUNATE VALENTINE'S SCAM, Alannah Rogers - set in New Hampshire 
  12. 4.4, OLMEC OBITUARY, L.J.M. Owen - Aussie author, debut novel, beginning of a series 
  13. 4.4, THE CASE OF THE VELVET CLAWS, Erle Stanley Gardner - #1 in the Perry Mason series. 
 My Pick of the Month was THE BLOOD STRAND by Chris Ould

Having left the Faroes as a child, Jan Reyna is now a British police detective, and the Islands are foreign to him. But he is drawn back when his estranged father is found unconscious, a shotgun by his side and someone else’s blood in his car. Then a man’s body is found, a shotgun wound in his side, but signs that he was suffocated. Is his father responsible for the man’s death? Jan must decide whether to stay or forsake the Faroe Islands for good.

See my review 

See what others have chosen for Pick of the Month.

1 February 2016

Crime Fiction Pick of the Month January 2016

Crime Fiction Pick of the Month 2016
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 January 2016, 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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