30 April 2019

Review: HOUSE OF GLASS, Susan Fletcher

  • this edition published by Virago Press 2018
  • ISBN 9-780349-007656
  • 357 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

I had a curious sense of being watched.

June 1914 and a young woman - Clara Waterfield - is summoned to a large stone house in Gloucestershire. Her task: to fill a greenhouse with exotic plants from Kew Gardens, to create a private paradise for the owner of Shadowbrook. Yet on arrival, Clara hears rumours: something is wrong with this quiet, wisteria-covered house. Its gardens are filled with foxgloves, hydrangea and roses; it has lily ponds, a croquet lawn - and the marvellous new glasshouse awaits her. But the house itself feels unloved. Its rooms are shuttered or empty. The owner is mostly absent; the housekeeper and maids seem afraid. And soon Clara understands their fear, for something - or someone - is walking through the house at night.

In the height of summer, she finds herself drawn deeper into Shadowbrook's dark interior - and into the secrets that violently haunt this house.

Nothing - not even the men who claim they wish to help her - is quite what it seems.

Reminiscent of Daphne du Maurier, this is a wonderful, atmospheric Gothic novel.

My Take:

As the blurb says, this attempts, and largely succeeds, to be an atmospheric Gothic style novel.
The mystery isn't confined to what is happening in Shadowbank and what has happened there before.

Clara Waterfield has had a confined childhood largely caused by the disease she has - brittle bones- which makes her susceptible to fractures. Her mother has recently died, and there is mystery there related to who Clara's father is.
After a relatively short time of studying plants at Kew Gardens, through the head keeper Clara is surprisingly invited to oversee the set up of a large glass house in the country.

There she hears stories about the recent owners of the house. The current owner who is paying for Clara's glass house project is frequently away and it is weeks before she meets him.

This is a book that keeps you reading even if only to solve the mystery of what is happening in the house.

My rating: 4.4

I have previously read:

27 April 2019

Review: MARLBOROUGH MAN, Alan Carter

  • format: audio (mainly) Audible
  • Narrated by: Jerome Pride
  • Length: 10 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 12-01-18
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Whole Story Audiobooks
Synopsis (Audible)

Nick Chester is working as a sergeant for the Havelock police in the Marlborough Sound, at the top of New Zealand’s South Island. If the river isn’t flooded and the land hasn’t slipped, it’s paradise. Unless you are also hiding from a ruthless man with a grudge, in which case remote beauty has its own kind of danger. In the last couple of weeks, two locals have vanished. Their bodies are found, but the Pied Piper is still at large.

Marlborough Man is a gripping story about the hunter and the hunted and about what happens when evil takes hold in a small town.

Ngaio Marsh Award 2018
Alan Carter’s Marlborough Man (Fremantle Press) has won the 2018 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel.
The novel, about an ex-undercover agent from England trying to distance himself from his dangerous past and settle into a quieter life as a local cop in the Marlborough Sound, was chosen from a shortlist of six, with judges calling it a ‘terrific, full-throated crime thriller that puts the freshest of spins on the cop-with-a-past trope’.

My Take

This novel has a chequered history for me. I began reading it on my kindle, then found an audio version which I decided to listen to with my fellow traveller on our weekend journeys. At the end of today I had just an hour left to listen to and so decided to read the final chapters on my kindle.

For some reason I didn't at first really take to Jerome Pride's Geordie narration, but as it proceeded the story took over. By the end I really just wanted to know how the story came together.

Nick Chester is a cop from Sunderland (UK) who was part of an undercover operation to bring down one of the local underworld bosses. He has been sent to New Zealand as part of a protection programme, and for the first half of the novel is waiting for the thugs to catchup with him.  When they finally arrive though, and that element of the plot is solved, the local elements of child abductions takes over.

The New Zealand setting and excellent writing gives him the 2018 Ngaio Marsh award.
Also shortlisted for the 2018 Ned Kelly Award.

Good reading.
It reminded me that I really need to read more Alan Carter.

My rating: 4.6

I've also read

24 April 2019

Review: THE SHADOW HOUR, Kate Riordan

  • This edition published by Michael Joseph 2016
  • ISBN 978-0-7181-7929-8
  • 504 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (publisher)

Two generations of women, and one house that holds the terrible secrets of their pasts.

Nineteen twenty-two. Grace has been sent to the stately and crumbling Fenix House to follow in her grandmother's footsteps as a governess. But when she meets the house's inhabitants, people who she had only previously heard of in stories, the cracks in her grandmother's tale begin to show. Secrets appear to live in the house's very walls and everybody is resolutely protecting their own.

Why has she been sent here? Why did her grandmother leave after just one summer? And as the past collides with the present, can Grace unravel these secrets and discover who her grandmother, and who she, really is?

My Take

This novel is mystery rather crime fiction. although crimes are committed.

My first reaction was that its structure was rather too similar to THE GIRL IN THE PHOTOGRAPH which I read just recently. But that actually probably doesn't matter- the novelist has hit on a winning formula - two plot strands work their way towards each other, one forwards from 1878 and one backwards from 1922.

In 1922 Fenix House is no longer the grand house with many servants that it had been in 1878. All the stories that Grace's grandmother Harriet tells her about the house come from the earlier time and so she finds the house very different to what she expects.

Grace understands that her grandmother has sent her to the house with a purpose, although she is to stand on her own two feet, and not to reveal that her grandmother was also once the governess.

A good read for those who like slightly gothic novels with a touch of mystery.

My rating: 4.5

I've also read

23 April 2019

Review: LAST WORDS, Michael Koryta

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 1348 KB
  • Print Length: 449 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (August 27, 2015)
  • Publication Date: August 27, 2015
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00T39BL98
Synopsis (Amazon)

Private investigator Mark Novak is still mourning the death of his wife, and it's affecting his work. With his future on the line, Mark is sent to check out a case in the Midwest town of Garrison, home to a famous but perilous cave system. A girl has died in the caves, and the man who brought her out is still believed by many to be her killer. He begs Novak to uncover what really happened.

But Garrison is the kind of place where cold cases stay cold. Mark tries to delve into the town's secrets, but in the end, he will have to match his wits against the man who knows the caverns better than anyone. A man who seems to have lost his mind. A man who seems to know Mark Novak all too well.

My take

On the day that Mark Novak's wife Lauren was killed they parted harshly, she investigating something that he didn't think was her responsibility. He finds it hard to forget how they parted and at his investigative work for the company Innocence Inc (which does pro bono legal work challenging death row and freeing the wrongly convicted) Mark makes poor decisions, such that the board questions his commitment. As they discuss his future Mark is sent to Garrison to investigate a death in the caves. The main setting is a largely unexplored cave system in Southern Indiana. Ostensibly Mark is sent there to redeem himself.

However he feels very little interest in the case as he feels that there is really no case for Innocence Inc. to pick up.

However there are some very strange characters in this novel, and despite himself Mark becomes involved.

This was a novel that it took me a while to get into, perhaps because I didn't really like the character of Mark himself, and partly because there are some really dark passages in the novel.

At the end of the novel, there is so obviously an opening for a sequel.

My rating:  4.3

About the author

Michael Koryta (pronounced Ko-ree-ta) is the New York Times-bestselling author of 11 suspense novels. His work has been praised by Stephen King, Michael Connelly, Lee Child, Dean Koontz, James Patterson, Dennis Lehane, Daniel Woodrell, Ron Rash, and Scott Smith among many others, and has been translated into more than 20 languages. His books have won or been nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Edgar® Award, Shamus Award, Barry Award, Quill Award, International Thriller Writers Award, and the Golden Dagger. They’ve been selected as “best books of the year” by publications as diverse as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Amazon.com, O the Oprah Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, People, Reader’s Digest, iBooks, and Kirkus Reviews.LAST WORDS is the beginning of a new series.

22 April 2019

Review: THE SHAPE OF LIES, Rachel Abbott

  • format Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 2499 KB
  • Print Length: 339 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Black Dot Publishing Ltd (February 12, 2019)
  • Publication Date: February 12, 2019
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  •  ASIN: B07MJBP898
  • #8 in the DCI Tom Douglas series

Synopsis (Amazon)

Yesterday, Scott was dead. Today, he’s back.
And Anna doesn’t believe in ghosts.

Scott was Anna’s boyfriend. She loved him, but he ruined her life. When he died, she should have been free, but today Scott is on the radio, threatening to spill her secrets.

Anna is a mother, a wife, and head teacher of a primary school.
And she’s a good liar.

She made one mistake, and now she is having to pay for it. Scott is the only person who knows the truth about her past, but how can he be alive?

Soon, DCI Tom Douglas is going to knock on her door looking for answers. But Anna is already running scared: from the man she loved; the man she watched die; the man who has come back to life.

She has one week to find him. One week to stop him.

My Take

In most of the earlier titles in this series I have had a lot of empathy for the main character.
And that was the way things started with this novel.

Anna's husband Domenic hasn't worked for 18 months, since he was kneecapped in a mugging. Since then he has been the stay-at-home dad, she the principal at  nearby public school. She is driving to school when she tunes into a chat show, where a participant reveals that he plans to reveal all about a former affair. His name is Scott and he calls his former girlfriend Spike, and she thinks she recognises herself. The problem is that Scott is dead. And her husband Domenic knows nothing about what she and Scott did.

I'm afraid the more I got to know about Anna's past, the less I liked her.

The other problem I had with this novel is that, for the main plot to work, there had to be rather too many other plot lines, and too many changes in the main characters.

My rating: 4.4

I've also read

15 April 2019

Review: DISAPPEARED, Anthony J. Quinn

  • this edition published by Head of Zeus UK in 2015
  • ISBN 9781781858998
  • 252 pages
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

In Northern Ireland's darkest corner, the Troubles have never ended

Though bombs no longer rock Belfast, for some the fight goes on. Retired Special Branch agent David Hughes disappears after looking into the previously closed case of Oliver Jordan, who went missing at the hands of the IRA decades ago. Soon after, a former spy is found bludgeoned to death, the day after placing his own obituary in the newspaper. Beneath Northern Ireland's modern calm, ancient jealousies threaten to rend the country asunder once more.

A Catholic detective in a Protestant nation, Celcius Daly knows too well the agonies of sectarian strife. To solve this string of murders, he must reach decades into the past, confronting a painful history that Ireland would prefer to forget.

My Take

To be honest, for most of the time I found this novel hard going. I empathised with David Hughes who has Alzheimer's and is extremely frustrated because his memory is rather like a patchwork quilt with large holes. I understood young Dermot Jordan's desire to know where his father is buried, and perhaps even to clear his name.

But I struggled to remember which side was which, and who had done what.

Someone who has a better understanding of The Troubles would obviously enjoy the book far more. Thank you Anthony Quinn for trying to educate me!

My rating: 3.6

I've read

9 April 2019

Review: A KILLING NIGHT, Jonathon King

  • this edition published in 2005 by Orion
  • #4 in the Max Freeman series
  • ISBN 0-75286-936-1
  • 289 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

Max Freeman is at a crossroads. No longer content to live solely in his remote shack in the Everglades, he is looking to move beyond his self-imposed isolation. So when his onetime girlfriend, Detective Sherry Richards, asks for his help as a private investigator in nailing an ex-cop she suspects of killing several young women in South Florida, Max is ready to help her see justice done.

But there's a problem. Sherry's suspect is a former police officer from Philadelphia who served with Max; a brother-in-blue who once saved Max's life. Matters are made worse when Max's own aggressive investigation leads him to believe that Sherry's crusade to protect these women is about to roll over a possibly innocent man.

Caught between his loyalty to Sherry and his debt to his fellow ex-cop, Max's search for the truth will take him back to the streets of Philadelphia, where he will dig into his fellow officer's troubled past . . . only to come face-to-face with his own. And while Max continues his quest, a controlling, cunning killer inexorably closes in on what could be his next victim. . . . 

My take

Three female bartenders in South Florida have gone missing and the finger of suspicion points at Colin O'Shea, a childhood friend of Max Freeman's, also a former cop that he worked with in Philadelphia. But Colin swears he is innocent and Max believes him.

So Max finds himself trying to work out if there is a serial killer on the loose, and at the same time he is trying to prove that it isn't Colin.

Max is also working for Billy Manchester, a black attorney that he also grew up with in Philadelphia. Billy is working on a case of cruise liner employees who are being threatened by stand over thugs,

I found the story a bit slow in the beginning. The author seemed to need to fill me in on some details that I already knew even though I have only read #1 in the series. This story has many strands and both Max and the serial killer speak in the first person, which initially takes a bit of careful reading,

My rating: 4.4


7 April 2019

Review: NINTH AND NOWHERE, Jeffery Deaver

  • format: kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 4956 KB
  • Print Length: 52 pages
  • Publisher: Amazon Original Stories (January 29, 2019)
  • Publication Date: January 29, 2019
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
Synopsis (Amazon)

Seven strangers. Two hours. One tragic moment of violence that changes everything.

In this electrifying short story by New York Times bestselling author of The Never Game Jeffery Deaver, the destinies of seven strangers intersect in ways no one sees coming. It looks like just another gray March morning in the tough urban district nicknamed Nowhere when seven lives converge: a young man intent on buying a gun; the gangbanger who cuts him a deal; a by-the-book police officer on a last patrol; an advertising executive keeping secrets from her husband; a veteran haunted by a combat death; a single dad in a bitter custody battle; and a sharp-looking businessman en route to a new job he desperately needs. Any one of them could have a dark motive. Any one of them could be walking into a trap. When the fog lifts, it will all be much clearer—that a single, shattering act of violence has marked each of them forever.

My Take

I liked the way each of the 7 main characters was introduced in this novella. Inevitably as the author described each of the characters I made a judgement about them, but, as it turned out I was very wrong.

Tension builds as the reader realises each character is heading towards Ninth Ave in Nowhere and you know that something is going to happen.

An excellent read. Highly recommended.

My rating: 4.8

Review: THE MURDER AT REDMIRE HALL, J. R. Ellis - audio book

  • audio book from Audible.com
  • Narrated by: Michael Page
  • Series: Yorkshire Murder Mystery Series, Book 3
  • Length: 9 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 09-13-18
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Synopsis (Audible.com)

An impossible murder behind a locked door. Can DCI Oldroyd find the key to the mystery?

Lord Redmire’s gambling habit has placed him in serious debt. Determined to salvage his fortune by putting Redmire Hall on the map, the aristocrat performs an impossible locked-door illusion on live TV. But as the cameras roll, his spectacular trick goes fatally wrong....

Special guest DCI Jim Oldroyd has a front-row seat, but in all his years with the West Riding Police he’s never witnessed anything like this. He sees Redmire disappear - and then reappear, dead, with a knife in his back.

As Oldroyd and DS Stephanie Johnson soon discover, nearly everyone at the event had a reason to resent the eccentric lord. But how did the murderer get into the locked room - or out, for that matter?

When the only other person who knew the secret behind the illusion is brutally silenced, the case begins to look unsolvable. Because as Oldroyd and Johnson know, it’s not just a question of who did it and why - but how?

My take

This is the third, for the moment, the last,  in the cozy mystery series featuring DCI Olroyd and his colleague DS Stephanie Johnson. The audio book is well produced and is engaging listening.

Lord Redmire's father was the one who had the locked room trick installed in his house, but once performed, it was forgotten for over 30 years. now his son wants to use the trick to bring tourists to the house.

He invites DCI Oldroyd to be an official witness at the operation of the trick, but that actually has the effect of ensuring that the police  are at hand to begin the investigation into Lord Redmire's death.

I certainly hope there are more titles to come in the series.

My rating: 4.4

See my other reviews in this series

6 April 2019

Review: THE GIRL WHO WOULDN'T DIE, Marnie Riches

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 1124 KB
  • Print Length: 314 pages
  • Publisher: Avon (April 2, 2015)
  • Publication Date: April 2, 2015
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00U1K18VY
Synopsis (Amazon)


When a bomb explodes at the University of Amsterdam, aspiring criminologist Georgina McKenzie is asked by the police to help flush out the killer.

But the bomb is part of a much bigger, more sinister plot that will have the entire city quaking in fear.

And the killer has a very special part for George to play…

A thrilling race against time with a heroine you’ll be rooting for, this book will keep you up all night!


My Take

I'm afraid this book didn't grab me in quite the way the blurb promised. I found the plot overly complex and black. It would probably appeal to a much younger reader.

George McKenzie presents as a Cambridge student studying sociology in Amsterdam where girls are going missing. When a bomb explodes in an old library of the University of Amsterdam, and other students go missing, it is George who works out that there must be some connection with the faculty she belongs to. That's when the reader finds out that George is not quite who she seems.

Not quite my cup of tea.

My rating: 3.5

About the author
Marnie Riches is an award-winning, best-selling British author of crime-fiction, making her debut in the US with "The Girl Who Wouldn't Die" - the first novel in her gritty, gripping George McKenzie series. The series of five books has sold approaching two hundred thousand copies in the UK and continues to garner critical acclaim from her peers and in the press, as well as a loyal readership.

Marnie grew up in a tough neighborhood in Manchester, England, infamous for its violent crime but loved for its world-class music and friendly people. Exchanging the spires of nearby Strangeways prison for those of Cambridge University, she gained a post-grad degree in German & Dutch. She has been a punk, a trainee rock star, a pretend artist and professional fundraiser. When she's not writing, Marnie likes to run, refurbish old houses and drink gin.

Her George McKenzie crime thrillers, tackling the subject of trans-national trafficking, were inspired by her time spent in The Netherlands. "The Girl Who Wouldn't Die" and subsequent four books are must-reads for all fans of Scandinavian and British mystery, suspense and thrillers, who love a kickass heroine who will happily flout the rules if it means catching a killer. George's partnership with troubled Inspector Paul van den Bergen of the Dutch police and her complex family relationships back in London have readers returning, book after book, to see how George's life unfolds...

Marnie is also the author of "Born Bad" and "The Cover-Up" - the critically acclaimed UK hit series about Manchester's notorious gangland.

2 April 2019

Meme: NEW TO ME AUTHORS January to March 2019

Some really good reads among these: 14 read in 3 months
Not all crime fiction
  1. 4.6, MINE, J.L. Butler
  2. 4.7, THE DARKEST PLACE, Jo Spain 
  3. 4.6, WEEPING WATERS, Karin Brynard
  4. 4.2, AS THE CROW FLIES, Damien Boyd 
  5. 4.3, THE  BODY IN THE DALES, J. R. Ellis
  6. 4.4, THE KOOKABURRA CREEK CAFE, Sandie Docker not crime fic
  7. 4.3, THREE GOLD COINS, Josephine Moon not crime fic
  8. 4.4, THE NOWHERE CHILD, Christian White 
  9. 4.4, THE BLUE EDGE OF MIDNIGHT, Jonathon King
  10. 4.2, SOMETHING IN THE WATER, Catherine Steadman
  11. 4.1, MURDER UNDER A GREEN SEA, Phillip Hunter
  12. 4.4, THE BOOK CLUB, Mary Alice Monroe not crime fic
  13. 4.8, THE MARRIAGE CLUB, Kate Legge not crime fic
  14. 4.5, THE GIRL IN THE PHOTOGRAPH, Kate Riordan mystery rather than crime fic 

What I read in March 2019

A good month
Pick of the Month March 2019
  1. 4.3, THREE GOLD COINS, Josephine Moon - Australian author, not crime 
  2. 4.4, THE NOWHERE CHILD, Christian White - Australian author 
  3. 4.4, THE BLUE EDGE OF MIDNIGHT, Jonathon King
  4. 4.4, A STRANGER IN THE FAMILY, Robert Barnard 
  5. 4.2, SOMETHING IN THE WATER, Catherine Steadman
  6. 4.3, THE LISTENERS, Anthony J. Quinn
  7. 4.4, THE QUARTET MURDERS, J. R. Ellis - audio book
  8. 4.1, MURDER UNDER A GREEN SEA, Phillip Hunter  
  9. 4.4, THE BOOK CLUB, Mary Alice Monroe - not crime fiction
  10. 4.7, SHARP OBJECTS, Gillian Flynn
  11. 4.8, THE MARRIAGE CLUB, Kate Legge
  12. 4.5, THE GIRL IN THE PHOTOGRAPH, Kate Riordan   
See what others have read this month.

1 April 2019

New to me authors - January to March 2019

It's easy to join this meme.

Just write a post about the best new-to-you crime fiction authors (or all) you've read in the period of January to March 2019, put a link to this meme in your post, and even use the logo if you like.
The books don't necessarily need to be newly published.

 After writing your post, then come back to this post and add your link to Mr Linky below. (if Mr Linky does not appear - leave your URL in a comment and I will add to Mr Linky when it comes back up, or I'll add the link to the post)
Visit the links posted by other participants in the meme to discover even more books to read.

This meme will run throughout 2019.  Expect it to appear at the end of June.

Pick of the Month: MARCH 2019

Crime Fiction Pick of the Month 2019
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 2019, 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.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin