31 August 2017

Review: GOODWOOD, Holly Throsby

Synopsis (publisher)

A delightful debut novel of secrets and small town obsessions from Australian musician and songwriter, Holly Throsby.

It wasn't just one person who went missing, it was two people. Two very different people. They were there, and then they were gone, as if through a crack in the sky. After that, in a small town like Goodwood, where we had what Nan called 'a high density of acquaintanceship', everything stopped. Or at least it felt that way. The normal feeling of things stopped.

Goodwood is a small town where everyone knows everything about everyone. It's a place where it's impossible to keep a secret.

In 1992, when Jean Brown is seventeen, a terrible thing happens. Two terrible things. Rosie White, the coolest girl in town, vanishes overnight. One week later, Goodwood's most popular resident, Bart McDonald, sets off on a fishing trip and never comes home.

People die in Goodwood, of course, but never like this. They don't just disappear.

As the intensity of speculation about the fates of Rosie and Bart heightens, Jean, who is keeping secrets of her own, and the rest of Goodwood are left reeling.

Rich in character and complexity, its humour both droll and tender, Goodwood is a compelling ride into a small community, torn apart by dark rumours and mystery. 
My Take
An interesting novel just on the edge of crime fiction. The reader is never sure whether a crime has taken place or not. I found it a read that you had to take slowly just so that you wouldn't miss anything important.
We see life in the small town of Goodwood in rural Victoria through the eyes of Jean Brown, in her final year of high school. Rosie White, a year older than Jean, is the first to disappear. Her mother goes to wake her one Sunday morning and her bed is empty and her window wide open. Rumours fly thick and fast and the town is divided in opinion on whether she has run away or whether she has been taken, and is even perhaps dead.
The town residents largely regard the town as a safe haven, somewhere where crimes can't occur, where young people can largely roam without fear of attack. In fact a number of the residents including Jean's mother have returned to Goodwood after a time away. It is a small town where everybody knows everybody-else, and most "nasty" characters are identified and avoided.

Jeanie doesn't always understand what she has observed and she is distracted by the arrival of a new girl in town. 

When a second person disappears, it seems that something is seriously wrong. The town has turned into a place of danger.

A lovely read, lots of humour, and still enough mystery to keep this crime fiction addict engaged.
My rating: 4.4

About the author
Holly Throsby is a songwriter, musician and novelist from Sydney, Australia. She has released four critically acclaimed solo albums, a collection of original children's songs, and an album as part of the band, Seeker Lover Keeper. Goodwood is Holly's debut novel.

28 August 2017


  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 834 KB
  • Print Length: 363 pages
  • Publisher: Corvus; Main edition (May 1, 2010)
  • Publication Date: May 1, 2010
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848872917
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848872912
  • ASIN: B003MQM782
Synopsis (Amazon)

They're so sorry...
They've made a terrible mistake...
There's nothing they can do...
They have to take your daughter away.

You have three weeks to say goodbye.

After years of trying for a child, Jack and Melissa McGuane adopted a beautiful baby girl. Nine months later, a call from the adoption agency plunges them into every parent's worst nightmare: the father never signed away his parental rights, and now he wants his daughter back.

The biological father is a sullen eighteen-year-old with gangland connections, and, even worse, is the son of a well-connected federal judge who is prepared to use the full weight of his influence to get what he wants. Together they wage a harrowing campaign of intimidation and harassment aimed at destroying the McGuanes before they can fight back.

Jack and Melissa know that the boy has no love for his daughter, but what they don't know is why he and the judge want the girl so badly. With three weeks until they must legally hand over.

My Take

This is one of the titles that has been sitting on my Kindle for a number of years. C.J. Box is one of those authors I have heard mentioned often - he has captured many awards - but I have never read anything by him. THREE WEEKS TO SAY GOODBYE is a standalone.

The central theme is why would the federal judge who is the biological grandfather want to take on a baby when his son has no interest in the child. Why is he fighting so hard to get her?

This scenario truly would be the worst nightmare of adoptive parents who think they have everything sewn up, and who have fallen in love with their adopted child. Then add in friends and relatives who are literally prepared to do anything to help, and the mix becomes explosive.

For the most part the book held me. However the plot does illustrate how the most peaceful of people can be driven to violence when pressured. In a way the final stage of the plot was inevitable and logical, considering all that happened, but somehow I was disappointed.

The book has whetted my appetite for more by this author.

My rating: 4.3

About the author
C. J. Box is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over twenty-two novels including the Joe Pickett series. He won the Edgar Alan Poe Award for Best Novel (Blue Heaven, 2009) as well as the Anthony Award, Prix Calibre 38 (France), the Macavity Award, the Gumshoe Award, the Barry Award (twice), the Western Heritage Award for Literature, and 2017 Spur Award for Best Contemporary Western. The novels have been translated into 27 languages. Open Season, Blue Heaven, Nowhere To Run, and The Highway have been optioned for film and television. Millions of copies of his novels have been sold in the U.S. alone.

Box is a Wyoming native and has worked as a ranch hand, surveyor, fishing guide, a small town newspaper reporter and editor, and he owned an international tourism marketing firm with his wife Laurie. In 2008, Box was awarded the "BIG WYO" Award from the state tourism industry. An avid outdoorsman, Box has hunted, fished, hiked, ridden, and skied throughout Wyoming and the Mountain West. He served on the Board of Directors for the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo and is currently serving on the Wyoming Tourism Board. He lives in Wyoming. 

25 August 2017

Review: THE RESISTANCE MAN, Martin Walker

  • format: Amazon (Kindle)
  • File Size: 2238 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus (June 6, 2013)
  • Publication Date: June 6, 2013
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780870736
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780870731
  • #6 in the Bruno Chief of Police series
Synopsis (Amazon)

In south-west France, WW2 casts the longest shadow when some rare bank notes are discovered, notes that may have links to the legendary Neuvic train robbery in 1944 in the sixth internationally-bestselling case for Bruno, chief of police

In St Denis, Bruno, chef de police, can't get a moment's rest. Some rare bank notes have come to light that may have links to the legendary Neuvic train robbery in 1944. The investigation is fraught with issues.

Bruno is also dealing with a wave of local burglaries, which have brought his old flame, Isabelle - and their complicated history - back to the town.

Worse is to come. Tasked with piecing together these past crimes, Bruno now finds he has the more pressing matter of a body on his hands. He must now trace the links between past and present to restore peace in St Denis.

My take

This is quite a lengthy series now, and this title comes in about the middle. Once again, as I often do with a series, I recommend that you read the titles in order. There is a development of characters and scenarios that have "history" and you will really get the best out of the book if you know what has gone before.

These are a different sort of "police procedural" simply because the French justice system works differently to that of the UK and the USA.

The books are rich in culture and descriptive recipes, as well as strong character development.

In this one the past meets the present when an elderly resistance fighter dies and an old banknote from a train robbery is found in his possession. Burglary mixes with murder and terrorism giving the plot of very modern flavour.

My rating: 4.4

I've also read
BRUNO and LE PERE NOEL: a Christmas Short Story

Bruno, Chief of Police Investigation
1. Bruno, Chief of Police (2008)
     aka Death in the Dordogne
2. The Dark Vineyard (2009)
3. Black Diamond (2010)
4. The Crowded Grave (2011)
5. The Devil's Cave (2012)
5.5. Bruno and the Carol Singers (2012)
     aka Bruno and le Pere Noel
6. The Resistance Man (2013)
7. Children of War (2014)
     aka The Children Return
7.5. A Market Tale (2014)
8. The Dying Season (2015)
     aka The Patriarch
9. Fatal Pursuit (2016)
10. Templars' Last Secret (2017)
11. A Taste for Vengeance (2018)


Former foreign correspondent in USSR, USA, Europe and Africa for the Guardian (UK), author of histories of the Cold War and 20th century USA, and of studies of Gorbachev, Clinton, the extreme right etc.
Now I write mystery stories set in the Perigord region of rural France, home of truffles, foie gras, great cheeses and wonderful wines.
In 2013, I was made a chevalier of foie gras, in the confrerie of pate de Perigueux, and also an honorary Ambassador of the Perigord, which means I get to accompany the traveling exhibition of the Lascaux cave as it goes on display at museums around the world. I also help promote the wines of Bergerac at international wine fairs, and was chairman of the jury for this year's Prix Ragueneau, the international culinary prize,
The hero of my mystery stories is Bruno, a French country policeman and former soldier who was wounded while serving it UN peacekeepers during the siege of Sarajevo. Bruno hunts, cooks, tries never to arrest anyone and, hates to carry his gun (but sometimes must. He loves his basset hound, his horse and a complicated array of firmly independent women.
The Perigord also contains more medieval castles per square kilometre than anywhere else on earth and is home to the prehistoric paintings of the Lascaux cave. Most of what we know of prehistory comes from this valley of the river Vezere, where humans have lived continuously for some 70,000 years or more. Devoted to the area and his adopted home of the small town of St Denis, Bruno instinctively understands why our ancestors chose this spot

20 August 2017

Review: ANOTHER ONE GOES TONIGHT, Peter Lovesey - audio book

 Synopis (Audible)

Peter Diamond, the Bath detective brilliant at rooting out murder, is peeved at being diverted to Professional Standards to enquire into a police car accident.

Arriving late at the scene, he discovers an extra victim thrown onto an embankment - unconscious and unnoticed. Diamond administers CPR, but no one can say whether the elderly tricyclist will pull through. But why had the man been out in the middle of the night with an urn containing human ashes?

Diamond's suspicions grow after he identifies the accident victim as Ivor Pellegrini, a well-known local eccentric and railway enthusiast. A search of Pellegrini's workshop proves beyond question that he is involved in a series of uninvestigated deaths. While Pellegrini lingers on life support, Diamond wrestles with the appalling possibility that he has saved the life of a serial killer....

My Take

Another intriguing read from a master story teller.

Peter Diamond is delegated to assist a Professional Standards team after a police car is involved in a serious accident just at the end of its shift. The station has received a call about a naked man and the squad car is on its way to investigate when the driver swerves to avoid hitting an object. It rolls, the young driver is killed, and his passenger seriously wounded. There are many other things that Diamond would rather be doing than investigating colleagues.

However near the scene he discovers an elderly man, also seriously injured, presumably hit by the police car, and he begins to take a personal interest. But what was he doing out at that hour of the morning? The more Diamond and his team investigate, the more intriguing it becomes, especially after they work out that a number of elderly people have met untimely ends, albeit from supposedly natural causes.

The narration by Peter Wickham is particularly adept, with good distinguishing between characters.

I've been following this prolific British crime fiction author since 1972 when I was hooked by his debut novel WOBBLE TO DEATH. Check him out on Wikipedia.

My rating: 4.5

I've also read



14 August 2017

Review: THE LEGACY, Yrsa Sigurdardottir

  • this edition published by Hodder & Stoughton UK 2017
  • first published in 2014 as DNA
  • translated from Icelandic by Victoria Cribb
  • ISBN 978-1-473-62152-7
  • 455 pages
Synopsis (publisher)

The first in a thrilling new crime series from international bestseller and prizewinning author Yrsa Sigurdardottir.

The first in an exciting new series from the author of THE SILENCE OF THE SEA, winner of the 2015 Petrona Award for best Scandinavian Crime Novel.

The murder was meant as a punishment - but what sin could justify the method?

The only person who might have answers is the victim's seven-year-old daughter, found hiding in the room where her mother died. And she's not talking.

Newly promoted, out of his depth, detective Huldar turns to Freyja and the Children's House for their expertise with traumatised young people. Freyja, who distrusts the police in general and Huldar in particular, isn't best pleased. But she's determined to keep little Margret safe.

It may prove tricky. The killer is leaving them strange clues: warnings in text messages, sums scribbled on bits of paper, numbers broadcast on the radio. He's telling a dark and secret story - but how can they crack the code? And if they do, will they be next?

[From the bestselling Queen of Nordic Noir, THE LEGACY, is the first in a new serieswith intriguing, flawed investigators, and crimes as chilling as they come]

My Take

I came away from this novel feeling that the author didn't quite play fair with the reader, that essential information in solving the case wasn't revealed until the very last chapters - or maybe I just didn't pick up on it.

There are three horrendous murders eventually, all connected, and the clues the murderer is leaving don't help the police investigation much. So much depends of the answers given by Margret, the young daughter of the first victim, who was hiding under the bed during her mother's murder. Margret needs to be interviewed carefully so that her evidence is not tainted.

The other clues are found by some students who are interested in short wave radio transmissions.

The plot develops in complexity and from that point of view it is satisfying reading.

Euro Crime has labelled this as the first in The Children's House series, with a second THE RECKONING due in 2018. Fantastic Fiction confirms that we will meet Huldar and Freyja again.

My rating: 4.5

I've already read

13 August 2017

Review: THE FLOATING ADMIRAL, Agatha Christie et al - audio book

Synopsis (Audible)  

Inspector Rudge does not encounter many cases of murder in the sleepy seaside town of Whynmouth. But when an old sailor lands a rowing boat containing a fresh corpse with a stab wound to the chest, the Inspector's investigation immediately comes up against several obstacles. The vicar, whose boat the body was found in, is clearly withholding information, and the victim's niece has disappeared. There is clearly more to this case than meets the eye - even the identity of the victim is called into doubt. Inspector Rudge begins to wonder just how many people have contributed to this extraordinary crime and whether he will ever unravel it....

In 1931 Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers and 10 other crime writers from the newly formed Detection Club collaborated in publishing a unique crime novel. In a literary game of consequences, each author would write one chapter, leaving G. K. Chesterton to write a typically paradoxical prologue and Anthony Berkeley to tie up all the loose ends. In addition, all of the authors provided their own solutions in sealed envelopes, all of which appeared at the end of the book, with Agatha Christie's ingenious conclusion acknowledged at the time to be 'enough to make the book worth buying on its own'. The authors of this novel are G. K. Chesterton, Canon Victor Whitechurch, G. D. H. Cole and Margaret Cole, Henry Wade, Agatha Christie, John Rhode, Milward Kennedy, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ronald Knox, Freeman Wills Crofts, Edgar Jepson, Clemence Dane and Anthony Berkeley. 
First edition cover

From Wikipedia
As Sayers explained in the introduction to the book, "Each writer must construct his instalment with a definite solution in view—that is, he must not introduce new complications merely 'to make it more difficult' ... [E]ach writer was bound to deal faithfully with all the difficulties left for his consideration by his predecessors."

My Take:

This novel tends to prove that having a lot of famous authors doesn't necessarily make for a better novel.

As the novel develops, each author adds various plot elements such as "discoveries", new characters, and red herrings, so that by the last chapter the stage is very cluttered indeed. It was Anthony Berkeley's job to pull it all together at the end and to "make sense of the mess". The reader isn't really given a lot of help in deciding which things to eliminate from consideration and by the end we have two bodies, and a police Inspector who appears to be totally confused. The result is that the final chapter is more like a novella, very long, and final plot is very complicated.

It does help that the narrator, David Timson, is so good and provides a sense of continuity with his voice, as well as distinguishing cleverly between characters. I'd like to be able to say that I recognised the various styles of the authors, but I'm not sure that I did. You are told at the beginning of each chapter who has been responsible for this chapter.

I have talked to fellow readers about this concept, particularly in relation to teams of writers responsible for novels. Just recently we came across an Australian novel written by 5 authors, and two writers in a team like Nicci French, Michael Stanley, and Charles Todd are quite common.

My Rating:  4.2

7 August 2017

Review: WOLVES IN THE DARK, Gunnar Staalesen

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 2333 KB
  • Print Length: 276 pages
  • Publisher: ORENDA BOOKS (May 9, 2017)
  • Publication Date: May 9, 2017
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B06ZYL9CB4
  • translated by Don Bartlett from Norwegian
Synopsis (Amazon)

Reeling from the death of his great love, Karin, Varg Veum's life has descended into a self-destructive spiral of alcohol, lust, grief and blackouts.
When traces of child pornography are found on his computer, he's accused of being part of a paedophile ring and thrown into a prison cell. There, he struggles to sift through his past to work out who is responsible for planting the material ... and who is seeking the ultimate revenge. When a chance to escape presents itself, Varg finds himself on the run in his hometown of Bergen. With the clock ticking and the police on his tail, Varg takes on his hardest - and most personal - case yet.
Chilling, shocking and exceptionally gripping, Wolves in the Dark reaffirms Gunnar Staalesen as one of the world's foremost thriller writers.

My Take:

The last four years of his life, since Karin's death, have been a nightmare, and now Varg Veum is entering an even worse one.

The police have identified him as one of four men who are part of an international paedophile ring. His lawyer wants him to think over the last four years and try to work out who could be responsible. At first Varg can't think of anyone, and then he remembers various cases that he took on, none of which were successful, where someone may have come out harboring a grudge. For the reader it reveals just what Varg has been up to in the last four years and with him we begin to work out who may be responsible for his current situation.

An excellent read that really gets you in.

My rating: 4.8

I've also read

5 August 2017

Review: A STRANGER IN THE HOUSE, Shari Lapena

  • this edition published by Transworld Press 2017
  • ISBN 978-0-5930-7741-2
  • 288 pages
  • author website
Synopsis (book cover)

Why would you run scared from a happy home?

You’re waiting for your beloved husband to get home from work. You’re making dinner, looking forward to hearing about his day. That’s the last thing you remember.

You wake up in hospital, with no idea how you got there. They tell you that you were in an accident; you lost control of your car whilst driving in a dangerous part of town.

The police suspect you were up to no good. But your husband refuses to believe it. Your best friend is not so sure. And even you don’t know what to believe . . .

My Take

One of those novels that hooks the reader right from the beginning.

When Tom Krupp comes home a little later than he had intended, he knows from the open front door, and the absence of his wife Karen, that something is very wrong. His wife's mobile phone and purse are in the house, and it looks as if she left in the middle of preparing dinner. Her car is gone.

A little later a policeman turns up to tell him that his wife has had an accident. At hospital Tom finds that Karen is heavily concussed and appears to have severe amnesia. When she was admitted she was unable to give her name and she kept repeating the name Robert.

The police decide to charge Karen Krupp with reckless driving - she did run some red lights - but they are not convinced by her story of amnesia. They decide to take a closer look at things, to work out why she was driving so badly.

Tom is not convinced by the amnesia angle either and he wonders what Karen is hiding. He searches the house for clues about what might have sent her out that night.

A very readable book, with a few hidden twists.  The ending still came out of left field.

My Rating: 4.5

About the author
Shari Lapena is the internationally bestselling author of THE COUPLE NET DOOR. She was a lawyer and an English teacher before turning her hand to fiction.
She lives in Toronto.

Review: DON'T LET GO, Michel Bussi

  • this edition first published in Great Britain by Wiedenfeld & Nicholson 2017
  • translated from French by Sam Taylor
  • ISBN 978-1-474-60179-5
  • source: my local library
  • 324 pages
Synopsis (Amazon)

Picture the scene - an idyllic resort on the island of Réunion. Martial and Liane Bellion are enjoying the perfect moment with their six-year-old daughter. Turquoise skies, clear water, palm trees, a warm breeze...

Then Liane Bellion disappears. She went up to her hotel room between 3 and 4pm and never came back. When the room is opened, it is empty, but there is blood everywhere. An employee of the hotel claims to have seen Martial in the corridor during that crucial hour.

Then Martial also disappears, along with his daughter. An all-out manhunt is declared across the island. But is Martial really his wife's killer? And if he isn't, why does he appear to be so guilty?

My Take:

There are several narrators in this story: Martial Bellion, his small daughter Sopha, police investigator Captain Aja Purvi, her sergeant Christos Konstantinov, just to name a few.

Liane Bellion's disappearance from her hotel room is treated very seriously right from the beginning, particularly because of the blood stains on the bed and the floor. It seems that her husband Martial is in the clear until it is discovered that he visited the bedroom shortly after Liane went there. His access to a laundry trolley seems to indicate that he may have disposed of her body before he roused hotel staff to her disappearance.  And then suspicion lands squarely on him when both he and his daughter go missing.

I found the structure of the book distracting, particularly because there are places where French or Creole terminology is used in the text, with footnotes in English. As the reader, you are not sure whether it is important for you to remember this, whether that term will appear again.

However there were a number of mysteries to be solved, and the plot had many twists, with the effect of raising the tension and level of mystery. The final explanation and plot resolution is ingenuous and I began tossing up a number of denouements from about half way through.

My rating: 4.5

I've also read

1 August 2017

What I've read in July 2017

I've had an excellent month of reading with some really good reads
  1. 4.5, LET THE DEAD SPEAK, Jane Casey
  2. 4.1, Cherringham 1-3, Costello, Neil & Richards, Matthew - audio book
  3. 4.2, STORMY COVE, Bernadette Calonego - audio book
  4. 4.8, THE THIRST, Jo Nesbo 
  5. 4.8, BIG LITTLE LIES, Liane Moriarty 
  6. 4.4, SEE WHAT I HAVE DONE, Sarah Schmidt 
  7. 5.0, THE SECRETS SHE KEEPS, Michael Robotham
  8. 4.5, AFTER THE CRASH, Michel Bussi
  9. 4.4, A STRAITS SETTLEMENT, Brian Stoddart
  10. 4.7, THE CHALK PIT, Elly Griffiths
  11. 4.6, MASK WARS (aka CRIME ON THE FENS), Joy Ellis
Without a doubt my pick of the month was THE SECRETS SHE KEEPS by Michael Robotham.
He is in my opinion the top of Australian crime fiction authors. 

See what others have picked this month

Pick of the Month: July 2017

Crime Fiction Pick of the Month 2017
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 July 2017, 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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