10 August 2020

Review: THE GUEST LIST, Lucy Foley

  • this edition published by Harper Collins UK 2020
  • ISBN 978-0-00929717-6
  • 374 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

A wedding celebration turns dark and deadly in this deliciously wicked and atmospheric thriller reminiscent of Agatha Christie from the New York Times bestselling author of The Hunting Party.

The bride – The plus one – The best man – The wedding planner  – The bridesmaid – The body

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?

My Take

This is the thing about organising a wedding. I can put together a perfect day, as long as the guests play along, remember to stay within certain bounds. But if they don't, the repercussions can last longer than twenty-four hours. No one is capable of controlling that sort of fallout.

Sometimes we don't realise just how close we are to people.
We move "in the same circles" but don't see it.
The six degrees of separation theory states that any inhabitant of the Earth could meet anyone in the world with a maximum of six or fewer mutual connections between them and another person. Be it through acquaintances, friends, or members of their family.

Ostensibly what connects these wedding guests in the main is that they, the males at least, went to the same school, or knew each other from university days. And, in a sense they have never grown up. Several refer to what happened to them at school as being like something from The Lord of the Flies.
The female guests that we meet are mainly attached to the males. But there are some horrific threads lurking in the background, not acknowledged, all linked to one person, the one who ends up dead.

From the middle of this story, thread by thread is revealed, but the most horrendous one, the one that finally ends in murder, does not come out until the last few pages.

Highly recommended.

My rating: 4.7

I've also read
4.6, THE HUNTING PARTY

9 August 2020

Review: BLACK SUMMER, M.W. Craven

  • this edition published by Constable in 2019
  • ISBN 9-781472-127471
  • 392 pages
  • #2 in Washington Poe series
Synopsis ( Fantastic Fiction)

Jared Keaton, chef to the stars. Charming. Charismatic. Psychopath . . . He's currently serving a life sentence for the brutal murder of his daughter, Elizabeth. Her body was never found and Keaton was convicted largely on the testimony of Detective Sergeant Washington Poe.

So when a young woman staggers into a remote police station with irrefutable evidence that she is Elizabeth Keaton, Poe finds himself on the wrong end of an investigation, one that could cost him much more than his career.

Helped by the only person he trusts, the brilliant but socially awkward Tilly Bradshaw, Poe races to answer the only question that matters: how can someone be both dead and alive at the same time?

And then Elizabeth goes missing again - and all paths of investigation lead back to Poe.

My take

I initially started reading this novel, and then after about 50 pages, realised that it was #2 in a series, and so located a copy of #1 (THE PUPPET SHOW). That meant that when I came back to reading BLACK SUMMER, I had already met the main characters and had some understanding of the relationship between them.

Jared Keaton has been in gaol for 7 years for the murder of his daughter.  The appearance of a young woman claiming to be Elizabeth Keaton means that his lawyers appeal for his release, particularly after a DNA test seems to confirm her identity.

The novel opens with two puzzles: the first page begins My body is eating itself. So the first puzzle is to identify this person. Chapter One ends with the arrest of Washington Poe on suspicion of murder. So there is the second puzzle to be solved.

This is one of those novels where the reader needs to take notice of the time frame given at the beginning of each chapter.

The novel brings together the team we met in THE PUPPET SHOW: Washington Poe, Tilly Bradshaw, DS Gamble, and DI Flynn. Poe is convinced that he did not get it wrong when he originally arrested Jared Keaton for murder, so there is a race against time to try to prove his case.

An excellent read.


My rating: 4.5

I've also read
4.5, THE PUPPET SHOW, M. W. Craven

5 August 2020

Review: THE PUPPET SHOW, M.W. Craven

  • this edition published by Constable, 2018
  • ISBN 978-1-4721-2744-0
  • 344 pages
  • source: my local library
  • series: Washington Poe #1
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

A serial killer is burning people alive in the Lake District's prehistoric stone circles. He leaves no clues and the police are helpless. When his name is found carved into the charred remains of the third victim, disgraced detective Washington Poe is brought back from suspension and into an investigation he wants no part of . . .

Reluctantly partnered with the brilliant, but socially awkward, civilian analyst, Tilly Bradshaw, the mismatched pair uncover a trail that only he is meant to see. The elusive killer has a plan and for some reason Poe is part of it.

As the body count rises, Poe discovers he has far more invested in the case than he could have possibly imagined. And in a shocking finale that will shatter everything he's ever believed about himself, Poe will learn that there are things far worse than being burned alive ...

My Take

I always advocate that readers tackle a series in order of publication, but occasionally I don't obey my own rule.

I had in fact begun reading the sequel to this novel (which kept referring to events related to the Immolation Man) when I realised I needed to seek out and read this one.

Washington Poe, disgraced and demoted detective) and Tilly Bradshaw, mathematical genius, make an interesting investigative pair. Tilly loves data and can make it form patterns which no-one else can. She and Poe make a formidable pair, each appreciating what the other has to offer.

This case is one that the perpetrator intends Washington Poe will be the one to investigate. He wants Poe brought back from demotion, re-instated to help him wreak vengeance on a crime that is over a quarter of a century old. In desperation he carves Poe's name on the chest of one of the victims.

A good read.

My rating: 4.6

About the author
aka Mike Craven

Although he was born in Cumbria, Mike Craven grew up in the North East before running away to join the army when he turned sixteen. After training as an armourer for two and a half years, he spent the next ten travelling the world having fun. In 1995 he left the army and completed a degree in social work, with specialisms in criminology, psychology and substance misuse. In 1999 he joined Cumbria Probation Service as a probation officer, working his way up to chief officer grade. Sixteen years later, he took the plunge and accepted redundancy to concentrate on writing. He now has entirely different motivations for trying to get inside the minds of criminals.

Between leaving the army and securing his first publishing deal, Mike found time to keep a pet crocodile, breed snakes, survive cancer and get married. He lives in Carlisle with his wife, Joanne, and his springer spaniel, Bracken.

31 July 2020

Review: THE OTHER PASSENGER, Louise Candlish

  • format Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 2869 KB
  • Print Length: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (June 25, 2020)
  • Publication Date: June 25, 2020
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B07YL9FYWZ
  • Author website: http://www.louisecandlish.com/
Synopsis (Amazon)

It all happens so quickly. One day you're living the dream, commuting to work by riverbus with your charismatic neighbour Kit in the seat beside you. The next, Kit hasn't turned up for the boat and his wife Melia has reported him missing.

When you get off at your stop, the police are waiting. Another passenger saw you and Kit arguing on the boat home the night before and the police say that you had a reason to want him dead. You protest. You and Kit are friends - ask Melia, she'll vouch for you. And who exactly is this other passenger pointing the finger? What do they know about your lives?

No, whatever danger followed you home last night, you are innocent, totally innocent.

Aren't you?

My take

An engrossing read.

Jamie and Clare have been living together for 10 years in a large house that Clare's parents bought her. Clare works for a real estate agent and works with Melia who lives with Kit in a rental property a couple of streets away. Jamie, well past middle age, commutes into London to work in a cafe, after some sort of nervous collapse. He meets Kit on a riverbus going to work, and the older couple become friends with the younger one.

While Jamie and Clare live comfortably, Melia and Kit are heavily in debt, spending all that they earn and more, and Kit is openly envious.

Just before Christmas in 2019 the commuters meet with fellow travellers for Christmas drinks and Kit never returns home. Just after New Year two detectives come to the house to question Jamie, intimating that he is somehow connected to Kit's disappearance, that someone has seen something that implicates him. Jamie knows that he has nothing to fear but what has this other person reported.

Clare becomes suspicious of Kit and Melia and thinks they somehow they have been targeting Jamie.

If you think I seem to have told you a lot about the plot, never fear, there is much more, and some incredible plot twists that will leave you catching your breath.

I'll certainly be reading more by this author.

My rating: 5.0

About the author
Hello and welcome! I am a novelist based in London. OUR HOUSE, my #1 bestseller in the UK with over 200,000 copies sold to date, was my debut in the US. Soon to be published in multiple languages, it won the British Book Awards 2019 Book of the Year: Crime & Thriller and was shortlisted for the Capital Crime Amazon Publishing Best Crime Novel of the Year Award​ 2019 and the Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award 2019. It was longlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award 2019 and the National Book Awards Crime & Thriller Book of the Year 2018. OUR HOUSE is now in development for a major TV series by Red Planet Pictures, makers of the international hit drama 'Death in Paradise'.

Sunday Times bestselling author ​Louise Candlish was born in Hexham, Northumberland, and grew up in the Midlands town of Northampton. She studied English at University College London and worked as an illustrated books editor and copywriter before writing fiction. She is the author of thirteen novels, including the thriller Our House, winner of the British Book Awards 2019 Crime & Thriller Book of the Year and shortlisted for several other awards. A #1 bestseller in paperback, ebook and audiobook, it is in development for a major TV series with Red Planet Pictures. Those People, a novel about the neighbours from hell, is out now in paperback in the UK and hardcover in the US and reached #2 on the Sunday Times bestseller list.

Louise lives in Herne Hill in South London with her husband, teenage daughter, cat, and puppy. Besides books, the things she likes best are: coffee; TV; salted caramel; France (especially the Ile de Re); Italy (especially Sicily); tennis; lasagne; heavy metal; 'The Archers'; driving towards the sea (but not into it); anything at the Royal Opera House; white wine; Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (or, failing that, a Starbar); and using parentheses. Her favourite book is Madame Bovary.

26 July 2020

Review: INHERITANCE OF SECRETS, Sonya Bates

  • read as an e-book through Libby, source: my local library
  • Shortlisted in Harper Collins Australia Banjo Prize 2018 for an unpublished manuscript
  • ISBN: 9781460757857
  • ISBN 10: 1460757858
  • On Sale: 20/04/2020
  • Pages: 432 
Synopsis (publisher)

A brutal murder. A wartime promise. A quest for the truth.

Heather Morris meets Jane Harper in a gripping, page-turning mystery.

No matter how far you run, the past will always find you.

Juliet's elderly grandparents are killed in their Adelaide home. Who would commit such a heinous crime - and why? The only clue is her grandfather Karl's missing signet ring.

When Juliet's estranged sister, Lily, returns in fear for her life, Juliet suspects something far more sinister than a simple break-in gone wrong. Before Juliet can get any answers, Lily vanishes once more.

Juliet only knew Karl Weiss as a loving grandfather, a German soldier who emigrated to Australia to build a new life. What was he hiding that could have led to his murder? While attempting to find out, Juliet uncovers some disturbing secrets from WWII that will put both her and her sister's lives in danger ...

Gripping. Tense. Mysterious. Inheritance of Secrets links the crimes of the present to the secrets of the past and asks how far would you go to keep a promise?

My Take

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel, partly because it is set in my home town, but also partly because I am so familiar with the historical events it is connected with. The end of World War II started a whole new chapter in Australian history, but our fascination with television programmes and films about the war clearly show us that it is still very much part of our psyche.

In the Acknowledgements and then the Reading Group Notes at the back of the book, the author gives us an insight into what led her to write this particular story. 

The author has done a particularly good job with the mysteries woven into the story, and there is that little frisson that we the readers know just a little more than Juliet the main character does.

Recommended.

My rating: 4.7

About the author
Sonya Bates is a Canadian writer who has made South Australia her home since 1997. She studied linguistics at the University of Victoria before obtaining a masters degree in speech-language pathology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. Having worked with children with communication difficulties for over twenty-five years, she now enjoys sharing her knowledge with speech pathology students as a part-time clinical educator. When her two daughters were young, she started writing for children and has published several children's books. Her debut adult novel, Inheritance of Secrets, was shortlisted as an unpublished manuscript in the inaugural Banjo Prize in 2018.

23 July 2020

Review: WHO WE WERE, B.M. Carroll

  • this edition published in Great Britain by Viper 2020
  • ISBN 9-781788-164184
  • 319 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Amazon)

A KILLER TWENTY-YEAR REUNION.
AND YOU'RE INVITED...

Twenty years after they went their separate ways, friends and enemies are coming together for their school reunion. Katy, who is desperate to show that she's no longer the shy wallflower. Annabel, who ruled the school until a spectacular fall from grace. Zach, popular and cruel, but who says he's a changed man. And Robbie, always the victim, who never stood a chance.

As the reunion nears, a terrible event that binds the group together will resurface. Because someone is still holding a grudge, and will stop at nothing to reveal their darkest secrets...

My Take

As Katy organises the 20 year re-union, members of the central group are targeted by someone who seems to hate them all. And it seems that possibly the person has been in their homes, stalking them, taking things, leaving messages. Very scary.

So the mystery part of it puts it squarely in the category of crime fiction.
Katy is organising the event and updating the year book that they all contributed to in 2000. She asks each of the people she contacts to update their details, and then "the stalker" begins to make their own malicious contributions, with details that makes them think it is one of their small group.

We see events through the eyes of a number of characters.
Very well written. Engrossing.

My Rating: 4.5


I have also read
4.5, THE MISSING PIECES OF SOPHIE McCARTHY

19 July 2020

Review: HUNTING GAME, Helene Tursten

  • format: e-book through Libby
  • #1 in Detective Inspector Embla Nystrom series
  • published 2016 
  • Translated from Swedish by Paul Norlen
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

Helene Tursten's explosive new series features Detective Inspector Embla Nyström, a sharp, unforgiving woman working in a man's world. When one of her peers is murdered during a routine hunting trip, Embla must track down the killer while confronting a dark incident from her past.

Twenty-eight-year-old Embla Nyström has been plagued by chronic nightmares and racing thoughts ever since she can remember. She has learned to channel most of her anxious energy into her position as Detective Inspector in the mobile unit in Gothenburg, Sweden, and into sports. A talented hunter and prizewinning Nordic welterweight, she is glad to be taking a vacation from her high-stress job to attend the annual moose hunt with her family and friends.

But when Embla arrives at her uncle’s cabin in rural Dalsland, she sees an unfamiliar face has joined the group: Peter, enigmatic, attractive, and newly divorced. And she isn’t the only one to notice. One longtime member of the hunt doesn’t welcome the presence of an outsider and is quick to point out that with Peter, the group’s number reaches thirteen, a bad omen for the week. Sure enough, a string of unsettling incidents follow, culminating in the disappearance of two hunters. Embla takes charge of the search, and they soon find one of the missing men floating facedown in the nearby lake. With the help of local reinforcements, Embla delves into the dark pasts of her fellow hunters in search of a killer.

My take:

I found this novel a little difficult to get into which I eventually put down to the style and the translation. I found characters and places difficult to identify.

Embla Nyström is a tough lady. She has suffered from nightmares for years, linked to the disappearance of her best friend Lollo when they were teenagers from a nightclub. Embla never revealed to the police and parents the true circumstances of Lollo's disappearance, particularly the link to some gangsters. 

The two missing men were once a group of 3, who nicknamed themselves "the three musketeers". Then 12 months ago one of them drove his car at high speed into a tree on his way home from that year's annual moose hunt.  It is Embla who discovers the link between these three men to the disappearance of Peter's sister.

An interesting but demanding read.
The author reveals in her final words that Embla has already made an appearance in one of the Inspector Huss novels, but now, she says, it is time for Embla "to stand on her own two feet."


My rating: 4.4

Detective Inspector Embla Nystrom
   1. Hunting Game (2019)
   2. Winter Grave (2019)
   3. Snowdrift (2020)

I've also read (Inspector Huss series)
THE GLASS DEVIL
4.4, NIGHT ROUNDS
THE GOLDEN CALF
4.5, THE FIRE DANCE

16 July 2020

Review: THE MEMORY WATCHER, Minka Kent

  • this edition published in 2016
  • ISBN 9-781541-3681
  • 321 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

Press, tap, refresh...

When Autumn Carpenter stumbles upon the social media account of the family who adopted her infant daughter years ago, she finds herself instantly drawn into their picture-perfect existence.

From behind a computer screen, Autumn watches Grace's every memory, from birthdays to holidays to bedtime snuggles. But what starts as an innocent fascination soon spirals into an addictive obsession that comes to a screeching halt the day the McMullen family closes their Instaface account without so much as a warning.

Frantic and desperate to reconnect with her daughter, Autumn applies for a nanny position with the McMullens, manipulating herself into Grace's life under false pretenses. And it's only then that Autumn discovers pictures lie, the perfect family doesn't exist, and beautiful people? They have the ugliest secrets.

My Take

Daphne McMullen and Autumn Carpenter are the principal narrators of this tale. Autumn has been watching the McMullen family through social media, and then Daphne ceases to post. Autumn becomes desperate to establish some sort of contact. She can also watch the family quite literally over her back fence and what she sees is an idyllic family. She applies for the position of summer nanny and for a while everything seems to be working out well. But then she discovers the undercurrents running beneath the apparent harmony and things become very different.

I wasn't prepared however for the incredible twist in the middle of the novel.

Well, I can hear you - is this crime fiction? Well yes it is. There is a murder and there is a lot of mystery.
Quite a satisfying read, and not bad for a debut title.

My rating: 4.4

I've also read
4.4, THE PERFECT ROOMMATE 

13 July 2020

Review: DEAR CHILD, Romy Hausmann

  • format Kindle (Amazon)
  • Published in German Feb 2019
  • Translated from German by Jamie Bulloch
Synopsis (Amazon)

YOU ESCAPED. BUT YOUR NIGHTMARE HAS JUST BEGUN.

A windowless shack in the woods. Lena's life and that of her two children follows the rules set by their captor, the father: meals, bathroom visits, study time are strictly scheduled and meticulously observed. He protects his family from the dangers lurking in the outside world and makes sure that his children will always have a mother to look after them.

One day Lena manages to flee - but the nightmare continues. It seems as if her tormentor wants to get back what belongs to him. And then there is the question whether she really is the woman called 'Lena', who disappeared without a trace over thirteen years ago. The police and Lena's family are all desperately trying to piece together a puzzle that doesn't quite seem to fit.

My Take

Lena Beck went missing in Munich when she was 23 and her father Matthias, and Karin, his wife of 40 years, have always believed she will turn up sometime, alive.

In a sense the novel begins almost at the end. An ambulance is called to a road accident where a woman has been hit by a car. A child tells them her name is Lena and her own name is Hannah, but she doesn't know their surname and she doesn't know how to contact her father. She says she has a younger brother and that he will be in their cabin in the woods.

Matthias gets a phone call from a policeman in charge of the case that investigation into Lena's original disappearance to say that a person has been found that they think might be Lena. He rushes to the hospital only to find that the injured person is not his daughter. Then he and Karin see Hannah who looks like a younger version of their daughter.

A very intriguing plot with plenty of twists. On one level it is a hideous tale about obsession, on another a warming one about Matthias' search for the truth. The identity of "the husband" came as a complete surprise. It is the author's debut title.

My rating: 4.5

About the author
Romy Hausmann was born in the former GDR in 1981. At the age of twenty-four she became chief editor at a film production company in Munich. Since the birth of her son Romy has been working as a freelancer in TV. DEAR CHILD is her thriller debut. Romy lives with her family in a remote house in the woods near Stuttgart.

8 July 2020

Review: THE CAKEMAKER'S WISH, Josephine Moon

Synopsis (publisher)

When single mum Olivia uproots her young son Darcy from their life in Tasmania for a new start in the English Cotswolds, she isn’t exactly expecting a bed of roses – but nor is she prepared for the challenges that life in the picturesque village throws her way.

The Renaissance Project hopes to bring the dwindling community back to life – to welcome migrants from around the world and to boost the failing economy – but not everyone is so pleased about the initiative.

For cake maker Olivia, it’s a chance for Darcy to finally meet his Norwegian father, and for her to trace the last blurry lines on what remains of her family tree. It’s also an opportunity to move on from the traumatic event that tore her loved ones apart.

After seven years on her own, she has all but given up on romance, until life dishes up some delicious new options she didn’t even know she was craving.

My take

Please note - this is not crime fiction

When her final family link in Tasmania dies, Olivia decides to go back to the Cotswolds to become part of a project designed to attract those whose families came from there. Not everyone is pleased with having "imports" in their village, as Olivia realises when someone releases a rat in her cake shop. But she and her young son Darcy quickly make new friends and begin to feel at home.

Olivia hopes too to discover why her grandmother originally left the village and meets some residents who were Ma's contemporaries.

I found this a "comfort" read, with an interesting scenario, and believable characters.

Book groups will enjoy the questions at the back of the book aimed at increasing their enjoyment.

My  rating: 4.4

I've also read
4.2, THREE GOLD COINS 

6 July 2020

Review: TIME FOR THE DEAD, Lin Anderson

  • this book published 2019
  • #14 in the Rhona MacLeod series
  • source: my local library - Libby
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

Time for the Dead ..sees forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod investigate a brutal series of killings on Scotland's Isle of Skye.

When forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod returns to her roots on Scotland’s Isle of Skye, a chance encounter in the woods behind a nearby activities centre leads her to what seems to be a crime scene, but without a victim. Could this be linked to a group of army medics, who visited the centre while on leave from Afghanistan and can no longer be located on the island?

Enlisting the help of local tracker dog Blaze, Rhona starts searching for a connection.

Two days later a body is found at the base of the famous cliff known as Kilt Rock, face and identity obliterated by the fall, which leads Rhona to suspect the missing medics may be on the island for reasons other than relaxation. Furthermore, elements of the case suggests a link with an ongoing operation in Glasgow, which draws DS Michael McNab into the investigation.

As the island’s unforgiving conditions close in, Rhona must find out what really happened to the group in Afghanistan, as the consequences may be being played out in brutal killings on Skye . . .

My Take

Reading this novel immediately after the previous title in the series definitely paid off. The events of SINS OF THE DEAD were very fresh in my memory and there were many references to that novel which would have otherwise left me very puzzled. My conclusion is that this really is a series where the author does not hold back from references to previous events.

Based on this experience, if you have never read any in this series, my advice would be to start at the beginning if you can, as I am sure part of the pleasure comes from the accumulation of knowledge about characters and what has happened to them.

I do really like the central character Rhona MacLeod and those other characters who are linked to her. The scenarios are very believable.

My Rating: 4.7

I have also read 4.6, SINS OF THE DEAD

3 July 2020

Review: SINS OF THE DEAD, Lin Anderson

  • this book published in 2018
  • #13 in the Rhona MacLeod series
  • source: my local library - e-book on Libby
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

The sins of the dead are all consuming . . .

While illegally street racing in the underground tunnels of Glasgow, four Harley-Davidson riders make a horrifying discovery: a dead man left in the darkness, hands together on his chest as if peacefully laid to rest. The cause of death is unclear, the only clues being a half glass of red wine and a partially eaten chunk of bread by his side that echo the ancient religious practice of sin-eating.

Called to the scene, forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod is perplexed by the lack of evidence. But when another body is found near her own flat, laid out in a similar manner, she fears a forensically aware killer stalks the city and is marking the victims with their unique signature. Even more worryingly, the killer appears to be using skills they may have learned while attending her forensic science lectures at Glasgow University.

There are signs that Rhona is being targeted, that the killer is playing with her and the police, drawing them into a deadly race against time, before the sin-eater’s next victim is chosen . .

My Take

I have paid the penalty of not starting on this series early enough, and I'll certainly be reading some more. I spent quite a bit of my reading time working out who the main characters are and what the relationships between them are.

The plot was intriguing and full of red herrings, and it wasn't until the final chapters that the identity of the killer becomes clear. Before that there were plenty of suspects.

My rating: 4.6

About the author
Lin Anderson was born in Greenock of Scottish and Irish parents. A graduate of both Glasgow and Edinburgh Universities, she has lived in many different parts of Scotland and also spent five years working in the African bush. A teacher of Mathematics and Computing, she began her writing career in 2003. Her first film, Small Love, which was broadcast on STV, was nominated for TAPS writer of the year award 2001. Her African short stories have been published in the 10th Anniversary Macallan collection and broadcast on BBC Radio Four.

She is the founding member of the crime writing festival of Scotland- ‘Bloody Scotland’. The festival has encouraged many crime writers from all across Scotland to take part in it and display their views and ideas on how to use the Tartan Noir form at its best.

Rhona MacLeod
   1. Driftnet (2003)
   2. Torch (2004)
   3. Deadly Code (2005)
   4. Dark Flight (2007)
   5. Easy Kill (2008)
   6. Final Cut (2009)
   7. The Reborn (2010)
   8. Picture Her Dead (2011)
   9. Paths of the Dead (2014)
   10. The Special Dead (2015)
   11. None but the Dead (2016)
   12. Follow the Dead (2017)
   13. Sins of the Dead (2018)
   14. Time for the Dead (2019)
   15. The Innocent Dead (2020)
   Blood Red Roses (2005)

1 July 2020

What I read in June 2020

Another good reading month
My pick of the month is shared between
CALL ME EVIE, J. P. Pomare and
4.8, RULES FOR PERFECT MURDERS, Peter Swanson
  1. 4.3, COLD CASE, Quentin Jardine
  2. 4.4, THE DARKNESS GATHERS, Lisa Unger
  3. 4.4, UNDER THE MIDNIGHT SKY, Anna Romer  
  4. 4.5, THE WEEKEND, Charlotte Wood - NOT crime fiction 
  5. 4.4, YOU DON'T KNOW ME, Sara Foster 
  6. 4.4, LONG WAY HOME, Eva Dolan
  7. 4.7, BRING OUT THE BODIES, Hilary Mantel - audio book  
  8. 4.8, CALL ME EVIE, J. P. Pomare
  9. 4.8, RULES FOR PERFECT MURDERS, Peter Swanson  
  10. 4.4, THE PERFECT ROOMMATE, Minka Kent
  11. 4.5, GREENWOOD, Michael Christie - NOT crime fiction

6 months of reading

I have read 72 novels in the first 6 months of 2020
50% of the books have come through the library system,
one third are new-to-me authors,
40 % are British,
35 % are Australian authors,
40% are e-books


See reading challenges summary.
If you want to check the books see my reviews so far 
  • 2020 Good Reads Reading Challenge. I have set my challenge at 120. Currently:72
  • Good Reads A-Z of titles: Currently: 19
  • Agatha Christie Reading Challenge Completed in 2014, titles read in 2020: 1
  • USA Fiction Challenge So far 29/51, this year: 7
  • 2020 Aussie Author Reading Challenge: aiming for 20: currently 27
  • 2020 Australian Women Writers Challenge: aiming for 20. Currently 19
  • Read Around the World 2020: currently: 72
  • British Books Challenge 2020 currently 30
  • 2020 Ebook Reading Challenge currently 31 - these are read on Kindle and Libby
  • New to me authors - a personal challenge currently  24
  • Not crime fiction - a personal challenge currently 4
  • Nordic reading challenge - a personal challenge, currently 4
  • New Zealand reading challenge -again a personal challenge. currently 2
  • Translated crime fiction - a personal challenge that will overlap with many of the other reading challenges that I have undertaken. currently 4
  • Snagged at the Library currently: 38
  • Audio books: currently: 5
  • 2020 Historical Reading Challenge. Currently: 6

30 June 2020

Review: GREENWOOD, Michael Christie

  • this edition an e-book on Libby
  • Length:512pp
  • ISBN (13):9781925713855
  • Pub date:4 Feb 2020
  • source: my local library
  • 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize - Long-listed
Synopsis

‘The truth is that all family lines, from the highest to the lowest, originate somewhere, on some particular day. Even the grandest trees must’ve once been seeds spun helpless on the wind, and then just meek saplings nosing up from the soil.’

2038. On a remote island off the Pacific coast of British Columbia stands the Greenwood Arboreal Cathedral, one of the world’s last forests. Wealthy tourists flock from all corners of the dust-choked globe to see the spectacle and remember what once was. But even as they breathe in the fresh air and pose for photographs amidst the greenery, guide Jake knows that the forest is dying, though her bosses won’t admit it.

1908. Two passenger locomotives meet head-on. The only survivors are two young boys, who take refuge in a trapper’s cabin in a forest on the edge of town. In twenty-six years, one of them, now a recluse, will find an abandoned baby — another child of Greenwood — setting off a series of events that will change the course of his life, and the lives of those around him.

Structured like the rings of a tree, this remarkable novel moves from the future to the present to the past, and back again, to tell the story of one family and their enduring connection to the place that brought them together.

My Take

First of all, blog-followers, this is not crime fiction, although there are mysteries to be untangled.

In four generations, a family moves from tree fellers to tree preservers, and around their family the world begins to show the effects of this long term destruction of the world's resources.  Dust that results from the baring of the earth brings first great dust storms, then the Withering, and then finally a fungus that will destroy the last forests.

The story begins in 2038, on the outer ring, as it were, when planet Earth appears to be almost in its death throes, at an exclusive arboreal resort, a remote forested island in British Columbia where Pilgrims come to reconnect with an almost forgotten past.  From there the story jumps back 30 years, then back another 40, until we reach the centre of the family "tree", when the name Greenwood is born. Eventually story comes out through the rings and we come "full circle" and back to where we started. Little mysteries are solved, and the family saga takes on an almost linear aspect.

The novel is challenging to read, in that there is so much we are told, and so much we need to remember. The dystopian part, our future, is not pleasant to behold.

Rating: 4.5

About the author
Michael Christie is the author of the novel If I Fall, If I Die, which was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Kirkus Prize, was selected as a New York Times Editors’ Choice, and was on numerous best of 2015 lists. His linked collection of stories, The Beggar's Garden, was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, shortlisted for the Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and won the Vancouver Book Award. His essays and book reviews have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Globe and Mail. A former carpenter and homeless shelter worker, he divides his time between Victoria, British Columbia, and Galiano Island, where he lives with his wife and two sons in a timber-frame house that he built himself.

25 June 2020

Review: THE PERFECT ROOMMATE, Minka Kent

  • this edition published in 2018
  • ISBN 9-781983-487644
  • 197 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

She’s my roommate.

I know how she takes her tea, how she organizes her closet.

I know when she goes to bed each night, what she eats for breakfast, the passcode on her phone.

I know she calls her mother on Mondays, takes barre on Thursdays, and meets her friends for drinks on Fridays.

But more important than any of that … I know what she did.

My take

Meadow is a literature student looking for a cheap room to rent and when she moves in with Lauren Wiedenfeld she gets a lot more than she expects. Lauren is generous with her clothes, her friends and her money and Meadow feels unexpectedly welcome.

What she doesn't know is that Lauren and her friends have just been waiting for someone like her.

This is a pretty quick read, but an interesting plot. I'll be reading another by Minka Kent.

My rating: 4.4

About the author
Minka Kent has been crafting stories since before she could scribble her name. With a love of the literary dark and twisted, Minka cut her teeth on Goosebumps and Fear Street, graduated to Stephen King as a teenager, and now counts Gillian Flynn, Chevy Stevens, and Caroline Kepnes amongst her favorite authors and biggest influences. Minka has always been curious about good people who do bad things and loves to explore what happens when larger-than-life characters are placed in fascinating situations.

23 June 2020

Review: RULES FOR PERFECT MURDERS, Peter Swanson

  • format: e-book (Libby)
  • ISBN: 9780571342358
  • Publisher: Faber
  • Pub Date: March 2020
  • Page Extent: 320
  • Source: my local library
Synopsis (publisher)

Eight classic murders.
A single crime obsessive.
Countless thrilling twists.

A series of unsolved murders with one thing in common: each of the deaths bears an eerie similarity to the crimes depicted in classic mystery novels.

The deaths lead FBI Agent Gwen Mulvey to mystery bookshop Old Devils. Owner Malcolm Kershaw had once posted online an article titled 'My Eight Favourite Murders,' and there seems to be a deadly link between the deaths and his list - which includes Agatha Christie's The ABC Murders, Patricia Highsmith's Strangers on a Train and Donna Tartt's The Secret History.

Can the killer be stopped before all eight of these perfect murders have been re-enacted?

My Take

This novel is presented as a memoir by the narrator, a record of things that have happened, but with names and identifying "characteristics ... changed to protect the innocent."

In the opening scene FBI Agent Gwen Mulvey enters the Old Devils Bookstore in Boston. She has rung to ensure that owner Malcolm Kershaw will be there as she wants to discuss with him. Some murders she is investigating remind her of the plot of Agatha Christie's The ABC Murders. She has found Mal Kershaw through a blog post he wrote some years earlier, a list titles "Eight Perfect Murders".
The books he listed were
The Red House Mystery by A.A. Milne
Malice Aforethought by Anthony Berkeley Cox
The A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie
Double Indemnity by James M. Cain
Strangers on a Train By Patricia Highsmith
The Drowner by John D. MacDonald
Deathtrap by Ira Levin
The Secret History by Donna Tarrt

Now it appears that someone may be trying to reproduce the methodology that the list is based on.
Mulvey questions him about why each book was chosen, and they agree between them to re-read the books.
She leaves, saying she will be in touch.

A cleverly written book, in which we are not at all sure about Kershaw's reliability as the narrator.

My rating: 4.7

Author bio:

Peter Swanson's novels include The Girl With a Clock for a Heart, nominated for an LA Times book award, The Kind Worth Killing, a Richard and Judy pick and the iBooks store's thriller of the year in 2015, and, most recently, Before She Knew Him. He lives with his wife and cat in Somerville, Massachusetts.

22 June 2020

Review: CALL ME EVIE, J. P. Pomare

  • this large print edition published by Hachette Australia 2018
  • ISBN 9-781525-299040
  • 467 pages
  • source: my local library
  • WINNER OF THE NGAIO MARSH AWARD BEST FIRST NOVEL 2019
    SHORTLISTED FOR THE ABIA MATT RICHELL AWARD 2020
    SHORTLISTED FOR THE NGAIO MARSH AWARD BEST NOVEL 2019
    LONGLISTED FOR THE NED KELLY AWARD BEST FIRST FICTION 2019
    LONGLISTED FOR THE ABIA GENERAL FICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD 2020
Synopsis (publisher)

DON'T TRUST HIM. IT WASN'T ME. IT COULDN'T HAVE BEEN ME.

Meet Evie, a young woman held captive by a man named Jim in the isolated New Zealand beach town of Maketu. Jim says he's hiding Evie to protect her, that she did something terrible back home in Melbourne.

In a house that creaks against the wind, Evie begins to piece together her fractured memories of the events that led her here.

Jim says he's keeping her safe. Evie's not sure she can trust Jim, but can she trust her own memories?

My Take

This novel is written in two time frames, before and after. There are also two narrators. Which is the reliable one? We see things mainly from Evie's eyes and tend to trust her, but is that right? Is Jim really the untrustworthy, unreliable one?

Evie is not her real name, Jim is her uncle. or is he?

Early on, we piece together that they have come from Melbourne as a result of a traumatic event, that they are "on the run", that people are looking for them, that it is possibly her fault.

This was an incredible debut novel, one that will keep you trying to piece together what has really happened.

At the end of the novel interesting questions are provided for discussion in book groups.

My rating: 4.8

I've also read
4.6, IN THE CLEARING 

19 June 2020

Review: BRING UP THE BODIES, Hilary Mantel - audio book

  • format: an audible book 
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance
  • Series: Wolf Hall Trilogy, Book 2
  • Length: 14 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 05-21-12
  • Publisher: Whole Story Audiobooks 
  • Costa Book of the Year, 2012
  • UK Author of the Year - Specsavers National Book Awards, 2012
  • Man Booker Prize, Fiction, 2012
Synopsis (publisher)

By 1535 Thomas Cromwell, the blacksmith's son, is far from his humble origins. Chief Minister to Henry VIII, his fortunes have risen with those of Anne Boleyn, Henry’s second wife, for whose sake Henry has broken with Rome and created his own church.

In Bring Up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel explores one of the most mystifying and frightening episodes in English history: the destruction of Anne Boleyn. This new novel is an audacious vision of Tudor England that sheds its light on the modern world.

My Take

This really is one of those books you could read again and again (as I have done) because there is always something "new" to absorb.

Henry VIII has an almost insurmountable problem: he is aging, and he does not have a legitimate male heir. Most of us know this story well but probably haven't realised that it played out over such a long period of time. Henry ruled England from 1509 to 1547. He was married to Katherine of Aragon for 20 years and Mary was their only legitimate child. By 1533, after 24 years of marriage, Katherine was unlikely to produce any more surviving children, so Henry had their marriage annulled, so he could marry Anne Boleyn. He married Anne in 1533 and had her beheaded for adultery and treason in 1536 after she had produced just one surviving child, a female, Elizabeth.

This book is the story of Anne's struggle for survival and the steps Henry took to secure a male heir.

My rating: 4.7

 I had reviewed this previously: 4.7, BRING UP THE BODIES

Thomas Cromwell Trilogy
   1. Wolf Hall (2009)
   2. Bring up the Bodies (2012)
   3. The Mirror And The Light (2020)

18 June 2020

Review: LONG WAY HOME, Eva Dolan

  • Published: 15 July 2014
  • ISBN: 9780099584391
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • #1  Zigic & Ferreira series
  • 400 pages
  • source: my local library as an e-book - Libby
Synopsis (publisher)

SILENCE HIDES THE WORST CRIMES

A man is burnt alive in a shed.
No witnesses, no fingerprints - only a positive ID of the victim as an immigrant with a long list of enemies.

Detectives Zigic and Ferreira are called in from the Hate Crimes Unit to track the killer, and are met with silence in a Fenland community ruled by slum racketeers, people-trafficking gangs and fear.

Tensions rise.
The clock is ticking.
But nobody wants to talk.

My Take:

This story is set in the Fenlands city of Peterborough where migrant workers have flooded into jobs in the town, in the factories, the building industry, the factories, and the pubs.

The newly created Hate Crimes Unit is called when a body is found to have been burnt in a garden shed doubling as accommodation. DI Zigic has a Serbian background, and DS Ferreira has Portuguese background.

Then the body is identified and is found to be related to another body discovered near some railway tracks, cut into pieces by a suburban train.

The investigative net gets wider and branches out into the migrant community where workers, some legal, some illegal, are being treated like slaves, and at the mercy racketeers, among simmering racial tension.

There are several authentic voices in the narration: the police, the owners of the shed, building site workers, and local petty criminals.

The final truth comes as a surprise.

This is the first title in a series that now has 5 titles:
   1. Long Way Home (2014)
   2. Tell No Tales (2015)
   3. After You Die (2016)
   4. Watch Her Disappear (2017)
   5. Between Two Evils (2020)

My rating: 4.4

About the author
Eva Dolan is an Essex-based copywriter and intermittently successful poker player. Shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association Dagger for unpublished authors when she was just a teenager, the first novels in her series starring two detectives from the Peterborough Hate Crimes Unit, Long Way Home and Tell No Tales were published to widespread critical acclaim. Tell No Tales was shortlisted for the Theakston's Crime Novel of the Year and the third in the series, After You Die, was longlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger.

14 June 2020

Review: YOU DON'T KNOW ME, Sara Foster

Synopsis (publisher)

Who killed Lizzie Burdett?

Lizzie Burdett was eighteen when she vanished, and Noah Carruso has never forgotten her. She was his first crush, his unrequited love. She was also his brother’s girlfriend.

Tom Carruso hasn’t been home in over a decade. He left soon after Lizzie disappeared under a darkening cloud of suspicion, and now he’s back for the inquest into Lizzie’s death – intent on telling his side of the story. As the inquest looms, Noah meets Alice Pryce on  holiday. They fall for each other fast and hard, but Noah can’t bear to tell Alice his deepest fears. And Alice is equally stricken – she carries a terrible secret of her own. Is the truth worth telling if it will destroy everything?

A stunning new thriller about the burden of shame from blockbuster author Sara Foster.

My Take

Alice Pryce reminds Noah Carruso of his brother's girlfriend Lizzie Burdett who vanished one night twelve years before. Alice is in Thailand teaching English and Noah is having a holiday before attending an inquest back in Australia called to finally resolve what happened to Lizzie.
They fall in love as if their lives depend on it. Both have secrets about what has happened to them in Australia, and Alice is planning never to return.

Noah puts off his return to Australia as long as he can, but eventually he must return to Australia for the inquest and to face his brother Tom. After Noah has left for home Alice gets a visit from the Australian High Commission which means she has to return too.

I kept wondering if this is really crime fiction, but in reality at least one crime needs to be resolved. But on another level it is a romance, but also an attempt to by the main characters to come to terms with shame and guilt.

My rating: 4.4

I've also read
4.3, ALL THAT IS LOST BETWEEN US

About the author
Sara Foster has written five critically acclaimed novels: Come Back to Me, Beneath the Shadows, Shallow Breath, All That is Lost Between Us and The Hidden Hours. She was born and raised in England, and moved to Australia in 2004. She lives in Perth with her husband and two children.

Find out more at:
www.sarafoster.com.au
www.facebook.com/sarafosterauthor
www.instagram.com/sarafosterauthor
www.twitter.com/sarajfoster


11 June 2020

Review: THE WEEKEND, Charlotte Wood

  • this edition sourced through my local library on Libby
  • published by Allen & Unwin, 2019
  • 272 pages
  • ISBN  9781760292010
  • Shortlisted ALS Gold Medal 2020 AU;
    Longlisted Miles Franklin Award 2020 AU;
    Shortlisted Stella Prize 2020 AU;
    Winner Literary Fiction Book of the Year, ABIA Awards 2020 AU;
    Shortlisted Best Fiction, Indie Book Awards 2020 AU
Synopsis (publisher)

People went on about death bringing friends together, but it wasn't true. The graveyard, the stony dirt - that's what it was like now . . . Despite the three women knowing each other better than their own siblings, Sylvie's death had opened up strange caverns of distance between them.

Four older women have a lifelong friendship of the best kind: loving, practical, frank and steadfast. But when Sylvie dies, the ground shifts dangerously for the remaining three. Can they survive together without her?

They are Jude, a once-famous restaurateur, Wendy, an acclaimed public intellectual, and Adele, a renowned actress now mostly out of work. Struggling to recall exactly why they've remained close all these years, the grieving women gather for Christmas at Sylvie's old beach house - not for festivities, but to clean the place out before it is sold.

Without Sylvie to maintain the group's delicate equilibrium, frustrations build and painful memories press in. Fraying tempers, an elderly dog, unwelcome guests and too much wine collide in a storm that brings long-buried hurts to the surface - and threatens to sweep away their friendship for good.

The Weekend explores growing old and growing up, and what happens when we're forced to uncover the lies we tell ourselves. Sharply observed and excruciatingly funny, this is a jewel of a book: a celebration of tenderness and friendship that is nothing short of a masterpiece.

My Take

First of all, this is NOT crime fiction (for those who follow my blog).

Four friends, now in their seventies, have met for years at Christmas at a beach house on the New South Wales coast. Now there are just three of them, and they are meeting to clean out the beach house in preparation for sale.
It becomes obvious that the glue that has held them together over the years is the owner of the beach house, the friend who has recently died.  And perhaps the things that separate them are bigger than the things that bind.
We find out rather a lot about their current situations, and also a lot about what has happened in their lives over the years.

A thought provoking read.

My rating:4.6

About the author
Charlotte Wood has been described as 'one of our most original and provocative writers'. She is the author of six novels and two books of non-fiction. Her bestselling novel, The Natural Way of Things, won the 2016 Stella Prize, the Indie Book of the Year and Indie Book Award for Fiction, was joint winner of the Prime Minister's Literary Award for Fiction, and was published throughout Europe, the United Kingdom and North America. She has been twice shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award, as well as many others for this and previous works. Her non-fiction books include The Writer's Room, a collection of interviews with authors about the creative process, and Love & Hunger, a book about cooking. She lives in Sydney with her husband.

8 June 2020

Review: UNDER THE MIDNIGHT SKY, Anna Romer

  • this large print edition published by Read How You Want
  • first published in Australia by Simon and Schuster 2019
  • 485 pages
  • ISBN 978-0-36932-454-2
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (publisher)

Chilling secrets buried deep in wild bushland drive this thrilling new novel from bestseller Anna Romer

When an injured teenager goes missing at a remote bushland campground, local journalist Abby Bardot is determined to expose the area’s dark history. The girl bears a striking resemblance to the victims of three brutal murders that occurred twenty years ago and Abby fears the killer is still on the loose.

But the newspaper Abby works for wants to suppress the story for fear it will scare off tourists to the struggling township. Haunted by her own turbulent memories, Abby is desperate to learn the truth and enlists the help of Tom Gabriel, a reclusive crime writer. At first resentful of Abby’s intrusion, Tom’s reluctance vanishes when they discover a hidden attic room in his house that shows evidence of imprisonment from half a century before.

As Abby and Tom sift through the attic room and discover its tragic history, they become convinced it holds the key to solving the bushland murders and finding the missing girl alive.

But their quest has drawn out a killer, someone with a shocking secret who will stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.

My Take

There are many mysteries to be solved in this novel with several story lines and the stories coming from several time frames. There are secrets to be uncovered. Abby Bardot has a history that she doesn't talk about, and there are several people who have hidden pasts. There is a man in jail for a murder he says he didn't commit. It all makes for a great tangle.

Underneath it all Abby the journalist wants to write about the secrets of Deep Water, about the girls who've disappeared, those who've died, and those who survived.

This book makes the reader work hard as the author changes the voice of the narrator almost at whim. There is little warning that this is going to happen and the narration can swap from third person to first person between paragraphs. There are at least four main narrators and several minor ones. I guess the intent is to make the reader aware of what particular characters are thinking, but it is not a device that I particularly like. In the earlier parts of the book I found it confusing.

Despite all that, an intriguing story, and one that kept me guessing.

My rating: 4.4

About the author
Anna Romer was born in Australia to a family of booklovers. She led a nomadic life for many years, travelling around Europe and Britain in an ancient Kombi van where she discovered a passion for history.

These days she lives in a little old cottage surrounded by bushland, writing stories about dark family secrets, rambling houses, characters haunted by the past, and settings that feature the uniquely beautiful Australian landscape. Anna’s debut bestselling novel was Thornwood House, followed by Lyrebird Hill and Beyond the Orchard. See AnnaRomer.com.au

5 June 2020

Review: THE DARKNESS GATHERS, Lisa Unger

  • Release Date: 2003
  • Series: Lydia Strong #2
  • source my local library via Libby
  • author web site
Synopsis (author web site)

Fresh from a tour promoting her last case, reclusive true crime writer Lydia Strong receives an anonymous cry for help, begging her to find and protect Tatiana Quinn, "and all the other girls in need of rescue." Maybe the plea strikes close to her heart; maybe her investigator's intuition starts buzzing. She takes it on.

But this simple case of a missing teenager soon becomes much more. Someone wants Lydia to drop the case, someone powerful, someone anxious enough to engineer the re-appearance of one of Lydia's first--and most dangerous--adversaries. Now, in addition to tracing the roots of Tatiana's disappearance on a trail across the country and eventually overseas, Lydia must find the man who wants her dead, his unfinished business from years ago.

Excerpt

"The voice on the tape was thin and quavering. Lydia Strong had to rewind the tape and turn up the volume. In the background, she could hear the wet whisper of cars passing on rain-slicked roads and, once, the loud sharp blast of a semi's air horn. "It's Tatiana," the message began, followed by a nervous little noise that was somewhere between a giggle and a sob. "Are you there...please? I can't believe she's doing this to me." She went on in another language, something throaty and harsh, Eastern European-sounding. Then she switched back to English. "I'm not supposed to call anyone. I don't have much time. I'm somewhere in—" The connection was broken."

My Take

Tatiana Quinn, rebellious teenager, has disappeared from Miami and her billionaire father Nathan Quinn is anxious to get her back. So far attempts to find her have been unsuccessful. Crime writer Lydia Strong is contacted first of all by a message on her phone and then by a Florida detective who says he has something for her. Lydia doesn't usually take this sort of case on but this one appeals to her.

Once in Miami Lydia becomes convinced that the appeal and the subsequent tape recording have been sent to her by the Quinn's home help. Lydia is about to quiz her when a black Mercedes mows her down and kills her. Actions like this tend to make Lydia all the more convinced to continue her investigation. One of the police investigators disappears and then is found dead. Then the remaining investigator becomes unwilling to talk and advises Lydia and her partner Jeffrey Mark to drop the investigation and return to New York. It is obvious that there is much more to this case and to top it all Lydia becomes convinced that one or both of Tatiana's parents are involved.

Quite a long read, with a number of twisted plot strands.

My rating: 4.4

I've also read
4.3, BLACKOUT
4.7, BEAUTIFUL LIES

2 June 2020

Review: COLD CASE, Quintin Jardine

  • this edition published by Headline Publishing Group 2018
  • ISBN 978-1-4722-3893-1
  • 370 pages
  • #30 in the Bob Skinner series
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

Is a killer still on the loose?

The thirtieth gritty mystery in Quintin Jardine's bestselling Bob Skinner series, not to be missed by readers of Ian Rankin and Peter May. Praise for Quintin Jardine's gripping novels: 'Well constructed, fast-paced, Jardine's narrative has many an ingenious twist and turn' Observer

When a murder investigation that's been closed for thirty years is suddenly re-opened, former Chief Constable Bob Skinner is quickly drawn into the action.

The story of the Body in the Quarry was well-known around Edinburgh all those years ago: a popular priest found dead in a frozen quarry; a suspect with a clear motive charged; a guilty verdict. But with a journalist uncovering new evidence, the cold case has come back to haunt Skinner's old mentor Jimmy Proud - and only one man can help him.

Skinner is long out of the police force, but he can't say no. With the clock ticking, and his friend's reputation at stake, he must uncover the truth to find out if an innocent man was convicted for murder. And if a killer is still on the loose . . .

My Take

I think I paid the penalty here of starting with #30 in a series. I was new to the characters and the relationships between them, and I had a hard time in particular with building a picture of ex-Chief Constable (Sir) Robert Skinner. He has started a new career as the director of a media company, has a family of varying ages, a wife who is the local pathologist, and still has a finger in many pies. He is held in high regard by the community and is immediately recognisable by members of the public.

The Bob Skinner series has produced 32 books since 1993 so I can only imagine the amount of background material that I have missed out on. The cold case in this book pre-dates Skinner's own career and new implicates the two men whom he regarded in high esteem and who were in fact his mentors. The man charged with killing the priest Matthew Ampersand actually took his own life in gaol but his family always regarded him as guilty. Skinner comes into the case as an investigator and tracks down both members of the dead man's family and members of the family of the convicted man. When the journalist who initiates the investigation first of all goes missing and then is found dead, the cold case coincides with the new one, and more resources are thrown at it, Skinner becomes the mentor of the senior policemen involved, and at the same time tries to protect the reputations of his own former members.

My rating probably reflects my lack of knowledge of the series rather than any shortcomings in the plot, but I was left wondering about the credibility of the scenario.

My rating: 4.3

I've also read
4.2, INHUMAN REMAINS Primavera Blackstone #2

1 June 2020

What I read in April and May 2020

Like many people I have spent the isolation time of the Covid-19 virus catching up with my reading.
There are lots of good crime fiction reads around, and even when access to the library was restricted, I had some good reads from books already on my shelves or already on my Kindle.

April 2020
My pick of the month for April was
PEACE by Australian author Garry Disher along with
SOUTHERN CROSS CRIME by Craig Sisterson.
  1. 5.0, PEACE, Garry Disher  - Australian author & setting
  2. 4.7, RIGHT BEHIND YOU, Rachel Abbott  
  3. 4.5, THE PORTRAIT OF MOLLY DEAN, Katherine Kovacic - Australian author & setting
  4. 4.8, THE GOOD TURN, Dervla McTiernan - Australian author
  5. 4.5, BOXED, Richard Anderson - Australian author & setting 
  6. 4.6, IN THE CLEARING, J. P. Pomare - Australian author & setting
  7. 4.3, THE BEEKEEPER, Stewart Giles
  8. 4.3, RETRIBUTION, Richard Anderson - Australian author & setting 
  9. 5.0, SOUTHERN CROSS CRIME, Craig Sisterson - Australian and New Zealand crime fiction
  10. 4.5, THE SHIFTING LANDSCAPE, Katherine Kovacic - Australian author & setting 
  11. 4.4, TRUE WEST, David Whish-Wilson -  Australian author & setting,
  12. 4.8, WHAT LIES BETWEEN US, John Marrs 
May 2020
The good reads continued, with my pick going to MEMORY MAN by David Baldacci
 ( audio book was THE REMORSEFUL DAY by Colin Dexter, the last book in the Morse series)
  1. 4.1, GREY MASK, Patricia Wentworth
  2. 4.3, ELLY, Maike Wetzel
  3. 4.4, THE CASE IS CLOSED, Patricia Wentworth  
  4. 4.6, PAINTING IN THE SHADOWS, Katherine Kovacic
  5. 4.5, LONESOME ROAD, Patricia Wentworth 
  6. 4.4, THE GREAT DIVIDE, L. J. M. Owen - Australian author & setting
  7. 5.0, THE REMORSEFUL DAY, Colin Dexter - audio book 
  8. 4.4, THE APARTMENT, K.L. Slater
  9. 4.8, MEMORY MAN, David Baldacci  
  10. 4.4, DEATH IN OSLO, Anne Holt  - translated from Norwegian
  11. 4.4, LYCKE, Mikaela Bley - translated from Norwegian
  12. 4.4, HERCULE POIROT AND THE GREENSHORE FOLLY, Agatha Christie
See what others have read in these two months.

Pick of the Month April/May 2020

Some how I never got around to running this meme for April, so here it is for April and May.
I have been considering not doing it any more, mainly because so few people are contributing.
But here it is for another month.

Crime Fiction Pick of the Month
April & May 2020
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 April and May 2020, 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 -
e.g.
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.



29 May 2020

Review: HERCULE POIROT AND THE GREENSHORE FOLLY, Agatha Christie

  • this edition published by Harper Collins 2014
  • written but not published in 1954
  • see DEAD MAN'S FOLLY (1956)
  • ISBN 978-0-00-754639-8
  • source: my local library
  • 160 pages
Synopsis (publisher)

As a favour to an old friend, Hercule Poirot finds himself at a summer fete in Devon, taking part not in a Treasure Hunt, but a Murder Hunt, in this never-before-published novella version of Dead Man's Folly. Now released for the first time in print in this illustrated collector's edition.

Sir George and Lady Stubbs, the hosts of a village fête, hit upon the novel idea of staging a mock murder mystery. In good faith, Ariadne Oliver, the well known crime writer, agrees to organise their murder hunt. But at the last minute Ariadne calls her friend Hercule Poirot for his expert assistance. Instinctively, she senses that something sinister is about to happen…

In 1954, Agatha Christie wrote this novella with the intention of donating the proceeds to a fund set up to buy stained glass windows for her local church at Churston Ferrers, and she filled the story with references to local places, including her own home of Greenway. But having completed it, she decided instead to expand the story into a full-length novel, Dead Man's Folly, which was published two years later, and donated a Miss Marple story (Greenshaw's Folly) to the church fund instead.

Unseen for sixty years, Hercule Poirot and the Greenshore Folly is finally published in this collector's hardback edition. The book includes a jacket painting, illustrations and exclusive introduction by Tom Adams, Agatha Christie's most famous cover artist, who is back illustrating Agatha Christie for the first time in more than 30 years.

My take

This edition was made all the more fascinating by the foreword from Tom Adams who illustrated the covers of so many Agatha Christie novels, a preface by her grandson Matthew Prichard, and an afterword by Christie apologist John Curran. These extras allow the reader to have an insight into the creation of this novella.

At the village fete Lady Hattie Stubbs, the hostess, disappears when she should have been doing something official. At the same time Ariadne Oliver's worst fears are realised when the victim of her mock murder mystery at the fete is found strangled. Later the gardener's father, who'd dropped a few cryptic lines into Hercule Poirot's ear, also dies. Lady Stubbs is never found and it is finally Hercule Poirot who works out what has happened to her, and just who Sir George Stubbs is.

This is longer than a short story, and about half the size of a full length novel.

My rating: 4.4

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