29 January 2020

Review: LONG TIME LOST, Chris Ewan

  • this edition published by Faber & Faber UK 2016
  • ISBN 978-0-571-30747-0
  • 455 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (cover)

Nothing remains hidden forever...

Nick Miller and his team provide a unique and highly illegal service, relocating at-risk individuals across Europe with new identities and new lives. Nick excels at what he does for a reason: he's spent years living in the shadows under an assumed name.

But when Nick steps in to prevent the attempted murder of witness-in-hiding Kate Sutherland on the Isle of Man, he triggers a chain of events with devastating consequences for everyone he protects - because Nick and Kate share a common enemy in Connor Lane, a man who will stop at nothing to get what he wants, even if it means tearing Nick's entire network apart. 

My take:

This was compulsive reading, to the point where I had to get up in the middle of the night to finish it.

Nick Miller was originally part of a task force in the Manchester City Police that ran the witness protection programme. Until his own family was in need of protection and the system failed. Then he went on the run, and set up his own protective system. All his clients have a single starting point, they are witness to crimes committed by Connor Lane.

Nick requires his clients to walk away from their old lives, from their families, and to establish a new identity outside the UK. They change their appearance, get new work, and wait to be called to provide evidence in a trial. They live on a knife edge, waiting for the phone call that tells them they must go on the run again. When they need him, Nick will be there.

For the most part this is a thriller, but there are unexpected twists at the end.

My rating: 4.4

About the author
Born in Taunton in 1976, he now lives in Somerset with his wife, Jo, and their daughter. Safe House, his first stand-alone thriller, was a number one bestseller in 2012 and was shortlisted for the Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award. Dead Line, his second thriller, was published in 2013 and is optioned for film. Dark Tides was shortlisted for CrimeFest's eDunnit award for the best crime fiction eBook

27 January 2020

Review: EYES LIKE MINE, Sheena Kamal

  • this edition published in 2017 by Zaffre Publishing
  • ISBN 978-1-78576-255-0
  • 297 pages
  • #1 in the Nora Watts series
Synopsis (publisher)

Nora Watts is about to discover that you never really put your past behind you.

The call comes in just after five in the morning. I am immediately on guard because everyone knows that nothing good ever happens before seven. I've never heard the name Everett Walsh before, but according to him I may know something about a missing girl.

Troubled, misunderstood, and with more than enough problems of her own, Nora doesn't want to get involved. But then she sees the photograph. A girl, a teenager, with her eyes. How can she turn her back on her?

But going in search of her daughter brings Nora into contact with a past that she would rather forget.  As she begins to investigate she uncovers a dangerous conspiracy and embarks on a harrowing journey of deception and violence that takes her from the rainy streets of Vancouver to the snow-capped mountains of the Canadian wilderness and, finally, to the island where she will face her greatest demon: a shadowy figure from her own dark past.

My Take

Nora Watts works as a research assistant to a prominent investigative reporter. She lives, unconventionally, in the basement of the building in which she works.

Over fourteen years ago something dreadful happened to Nora, which she only partially remembers. She was left for dead in a ditch, and was in hospital in a coma for several months. When she emerged from the coma she was five months pregnant, too late for an abortion. Her doctors considered her a danger to her unborn baby, and she was put into protective custody. Her baby daughter was put up for adoption. All the details were supposed to be secret, but now someone has found her. Not only that, her daughter is missing.

Nora is a very striking character, not particularly likeable, but likely to resort to violence if it suits her.

I found the pattern of the novel un-settling - several very short chapters followed by much longer ones. There is no consistency. The "voice" of the missing girl is introduced without warning, although the book is mainly written through Nora. Occasionally there is third person narration.

However it is the search for the missing girl that keeps you reading, although the reasons why she is missing were a little hard to believe, and the final chapters almost impossible.

My rating: 4.4

About the author
Sheena Kamal holds an HBA in Political Science from the University of Toronto, which she attended on Canada's most prestigious scholarship, received for community leadership and activism around the issue of homelessness in Toronto. She went on to work in the film and TV industry, most recently as a researcher for a crime drama series being developed for television. Her research into crime and investigative journalism inspired Eyes Like Mine.

24 January 2020

Review: NINE ELMS, Robert Bryndza

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 939 KB
  • Print Length: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Sphere (1 November 2019)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group (AU)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B07PLNY832
Synopsis  (Amazon)

A breathtaking, page-turning novel about a disgraced female detective's fight for redemption. And survival.

Kate Marshall was a promising young police detective when she caught the notorious Nine Elms serial killer. But her greatest victory suddenly became a nightmare.

Fifteen years after those catastrophic, career-ending events, a copycat killer has taken up the Nine Elms mantle, continuing the ghastly work of his idol.

Enlisting her brilliant research assistant, Tristan Harper, Kate draws on her prodigious and long-neglected skills as an investigator to catch a new monster. But there's much more than her reputation on the line: Kate was the original killer's intended fifth victim . . . and his successor means to finish the job.

My Take

Kate Marshall knows the Nine Elms Cannibal scenario better than most: she was, after all, the one who discovered the true identity of the killer, 14 years ago. She is also the mother of his son.

Since then Kate has left the police force and is struggling with alcoholic addiction.

Now she is a successful university lecturer and this story introduces a new investigative duo : a university lecturer (formerly a detective) and her assistant.  Kate is consulted by a pathologist who thinks he sees some similarities with a recent victim, to the original Nine Elms cases.
At the same time Kate is contacted by parents of a girl who disappeared 15 years ago, asking her to help them find out where their daughter is buried.

Both these cases present real challenges for Kate, stirring up memories she would rather not have.

Here is your chance to be in at the beginning of a new series, by a well established author.
Be warned though - some descriptions are pretty grisly.

My rating: 4.7

I've also read
4.6, DARK WATER #3
4.7, COLD BLOOD  #5

21 January 2020

Review: A BETTER MAN, Louise Penny

  • Format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 1021 KB
  • Print Length: 447 pages
  • ISBN: 1250066212
  • Publisher: Sphere (August 27, 2019)
  • Publication Date: August 27, 2019
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B07PCRM191
  • Inspector Gamache #15
Synopsis  (Amazon)

The air is unbearably tense as Armand Gamache returns to the Sûreté du Québec for his first day of work since being demoted from its command to head of homicide.

Amid blistering personal social media attacks, Gamache sets out on his first assignment. He has been tasked with finding a missing woman, but while he leads the search for Vivienne Godin, Three Pines itself is threatened when the river breaks its banks, and a province-wide emergency is declared.

As the waters rise, a body is discovered - and the victim's distraught father contemplates a murder of his own. Gamache is a father himself, and is haunted by a question . . . what would he do, if his child's killer might walk free?

My take

I am a long time reader of the Armand Gamache series and once again Louise Penny has come up with an engrossing read.

It is a multi-stranded plot as you can see from the synopsis above. Gamache should be retired, in fact many believe he should be dismissed, perhaps even be in gaol, but he is returning to the Quebec Surete, not as the commander but to the head of homicide.

The story brings old comrades together and they work together on what will be Jean Guy Beauvoir's last case.

I loved it.

My rating: 4.9

I've also read
4.5, THE HANGMAN - a novella


19 January 2020

Review: SIX MINUTES, Petronella McGovern

  • this edition published by Allen & Unwin 2019
  • ISBN 978-1-76087-528-2
  • 424 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (publisher)

How can a child disappear from under the care of four playgroup mums?

One Thursday morning, Lexie Parker dashes to the shop for biscuits, leaving Bella in the safe care of the other mums in the playgroup.

Six minutes later, Bella is gone.

Police and media descend on the tiny village of Merrigang on the edge of Canberra. Locals unite to search the dense bushland. But as the investigation continues, relationships start to fracture, online hate messages target Lexie, and the community is engulfed by fear.

Is Bella's disappearance connected to the angry protests at Parliament House? What secrets are the parents hiding? And why does a local teacher keep a photo of Bella in his lounge room?

What happened in those six minutes and where is Bella?

The clock is ticking…

This gripping novel will keep you guessing to the very last twist.

My Take

We all know of cases of young children who have gone missing in Australia and never been found.

Lexie Parker dashes to the shop across the road from the playgroup and returns just over 6 minutes later to find that 3 year old Bella has gone missing. The other 3 mums have not noticed her absence and the other 4 children are unreliable witnesses. This is a mother's worst nightmare and as the days roll on Lexie feels that it just reinforces what a bad mother she is.

But not everyone is telling the truth about themselves and their background and the reader is required to sift the evidence and to find out their secrets.

The local community rallies to look for Bella through the night, the police are called in, and they are not sure whether one of the parents is not to blame.

Social media is used to spread the word but this also invites the trolls to come out and point the finger at Lexie and her husband.

A really interesting read.

My rating: 4.3

About the author
Petronella McGovern is a writer and editor who grew up on a farm outside Bathurst, NSW. After working in Canberra for a number of years, she now lives on Sydney's northern beaches with her husband and two children.

18 January 2020

Review: THE WAY THROUGH THE WOODS, Colin Dexter - audio book

  • audio book available from Audible
  • Inspector Morse Mysteries, Book 10
  • first published 1992
  • Narrated by: Samuel West
  • Length: 9 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook, released 2017 in English by Macmillan Digital Audio
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

Quietly, rather movingly, Strange was making his plea: 'Christ knows why, Lewis, but Morse will always put himself out for you.' As he put the phone down, Lewis knew that Strange had been right...in the case of the Swedish Maiden, the pair of them were in business again....

They called her the Swedish Maiden - the beautiful young tourist who disappeared on a hot summer's day somewhere in North Oxford. Twelve months later the case remained unsolved - pending further developments.

On holiday in Lyme Regis, Chief Inspector Morse is startled to read a tantalising article in The Times about the missing woman. An article which lures him back to Wytham Woods near Oxford...and straight into the most extraordinary murder investigation of his career.

My take

This series, so skilfully narrated by Samuel West, just gets better and better.

The novels really are "academic" crime fiction. The plots are never straight forward, and the actual plots do differ a little from the television series. And, as I've said before, Morse is a little different in a number of ways from the character that John Thaw created for television.

Morse is presented warts and all, at times adamantly sure he is correct when he is absolutely wrong. He is a womaniser, definitely a bachelor, not particularly healthy.

I remembered the basic plot of this book but that didn't reduce my enjoyment of it.

If you want a reading project for 2020 then you could do worse than reading the Morse series from beginning to end, either in print, or as an audio. I have added the complete list for you at the bottom of this post. My recommendation is to read them in order.

BTW this is the one where Max the pathologist is replaced by Laura Hobson after Max dies from a  massive heart attack.

My rating: 4.8

I've also read
4.3, INSPECTOR MORSE: BBB Radio Collection
4.5, THE SECRET OF ANNEXE THREE -audio book #7
4.6, THE WENCH IS DEAD- audio book #8
4.3, SERVICE OF ALL THE DEAD - audio book #4
4.4, LAST SEEN WEARING  - audio book #2
4.6, THE RIDDLE OF THE THIRD MILE - audio book #6
4.6, THE JEWEL THAT WAS OURS - audio book #9

Inspector Morse
   1. Last Bus to Woodstock (1975)
   2. Last Seen Wearing (1976)
   3. The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn (1977)
   4. Service of All the Dead (1979)
   5. The Dead of Jericho (1981)
   6. The Riddle of the Third Mile (1983)
   7. The Secret of Annexe 3 (1986)
   8. The Wench Is Dead (1989)
   9. The Jewel That Was Ours (1991)
   10. The Way Through the Woods (1992)
   11. The Daughters of Cain (1994)
   12. Death Is Now My Neighbour (1996)
   13. The Remorseful Day (1999)

15 January 2020

Review: THE BUTTERFLY ROOM, Lucinda Riley

  • this edition published by Macmillan 2019
  • ISBN781529-014990
  • 628 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (publisher)

Posy Montague is approaching her seventieth birthday. Still living in her beautiful family home, Admiral House, set in the glorious Suffolk countryside where she spent her own idyllic childhood catching butterflies with her beloved father, and raised her own children, Posy knows she must make an agonising decision. Despite the memories the house holds, and the exquisite garden she has spent twenty-five years creating, the house is crumbling around her, and Posy knows the time has come to sell it.

Then a face appears from the past - Freddie, her first love, who abandoned her and left her heartbroken fifty years ago. Already struggling to cope with her son Sam's inept business dealings, and the sudden reappearance of her younger son Nick after ten years in Australia, Posy is reluctant to trust in Freddie's renewed affection. And unbeknown to Posy, Freddie - and Admiral House - have a devastating secret to reveal . . .

My Take:

This is an engrossing standalone. Although not my usual fare of crime fiction, it certainly contains many little mysteries to hold the reader's attention.

The story opens in June 1943 when 6 year old Posy is chasing butterflies in the garden of Admiral House with her father who is a renowned pilot. By the end of the war her father is dead and Posy is living with her grandmother. After the war he mother goes to live in France, and then in Italy but she and Posy never meet and Posy does not understand why? Can her mother hat her so much?

The novel takes us through various stages of Posy's life until her 70th birthday approaches and she sees someone who takes her back nearly 50 years .

An excellent read.

My rating: 4.6

I've also read

13 January 2020

Review: WHO KILLED RUBY? Camilla Way

Synopsis (publisher)

You never know what’s going on behind closed doors…

If you passed it on the street, you’d see an ordinary London townhouse. You might wonder about the people who live there, assume they’re just like you.

But inside a family is trapped in a nightmare. In the kitchen, a man lies dead on the blood-soaked floor. Soon the police will come, and they’ll want answers.

Perhaps they'll believe the family’s version of events – that this man is a murderer who deserved to die.

My Take

Thirty two years ago Vivienne's sister Ruby, aged just 14, and heavily pregnant, was killed by her boyfriend. Vivienne was just 8 and her testimony was responsible for putting Ruby's boyfriend Jack behind bars for over 20 years.

Jack insisted he was innocent and his family persecuted Vivienne and her mother Stella. Jack is now out of gaol and it is the anniversary of Ruby's death.

Vivienne has moved on, rebuilt her life, and has her own daughter who is nearly 14, but she still has nightmares almost every night, featuring her sister's killer, but she never sees his face.

This is a tightly plotted page turner and it won't be the only book by this author that I will read.

My rating: 4.5

About the author
Camilla Way was born in Greenwich, south-east London in 1973. Her father was the poet and author Peter Way. After attending Woolwich College she studied modern English and French literature at the University of Glamorgan. Formerly Associate Editor of the teenage girls' magazine Bliss, she is currently an editor and writer on the men's style magazine Arena. Having lived in Cardiff, Bristol, Bath and Clerkenwell, she now lives in south-east London.

12 January 2020

Review: THE PASSENGERS, John Marrs

  • this edition published by Penguin UK 2019
  • ISBN 978-1-78-503888-4
  • 406 pages
  • source: my local library

Synopsis (publisher)

Eight self-drive cars set on a collision course. Who lives, who dies? You decide.

When someone hacks into the systems of eight self-drive cars, their passengers are set on a fatal collision course.

The passengers are: a TV star, a pregnant young woman, a disabled war hero, an abused wife fleeing her husband, an illegal immigrant, a husband and wife - and parents of two - who are travelling in separate vehicles and a suicidal man. Now the public have to judge who should survive but are the passengers all that they first seem?

My take
    House of Lords votes unanimously in favour of driverless vehicles on British roads within five years. Ban on non-autonomous vehicles within a decade.
Driverless buses introduced in Australia 2019
Within minutes of beginning their journeys in autonomous driverless vehicles, 8 Passengers notice that the coordinates of their destination have been changed, and a voice tells them that in 2 hours and 30 minutes they will very likely be dead.

Libby Dixon is not in car however. She is beginning the second day of jury duty with a panel that looks at vehicle accidents in which driverless vehicles have been involved. The previous day had made her very angry. The rest of the panel were permanent employees who all knew each other and were all dismissive of any contribution to discussion that Libby tried to make.

The panel uses video footage of accidents to make their decisions. Shortly after they begin on the second day, their video screens are taken over, and begin to show the 8 driverless cars on their way to the undisclosed destination, and a voice, the Hacker, tells they will need to decide who will live.

Video thumbnails from each of the vehicles are displayed on the screens and the Passengers are introduced.

An engrossing read.  Related to the role of Artificial Intelligence in our technologies. But also related to reality TV and the technologies like Twitter and Instagram that we use to assess public opinion.

There were several reference to the underlying theme of Marrs' earlier novel 4.6, THE ONE (that was the one about matching DNA) but that doesn't spoil the possibility of reading THE PASSENGERS as a stand-alone

My rating: 4.8

I've also read
4.6, THE ONE 

10 January 2020

Review: THE FAMILY UPSTAIRS, Lisa Jewell

  • this edition published by century 2019
  • ISBN 978-1-780-899206
  • 446 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Booktopia)

In a large house in London’s fashionable Chelsea, a baby is awake in her cot. Well-fed and cared for, she is happily waiting for someone to pick her up.

In the kitchen lie three decomposing corpses. Close to them is a hastily scrawled note.

They’ve been dead for several days.

Who has been looking after the baby?

And where did they go?

Two entangled families.
A house with the darkest of secrets.

My Take

One of the incredible things about this book is the variety of narrators.

First of all, in the first person, someone whose identity we eventually come to surmise, more by a process of elimination.
Then the story of Libby, the baby who has now turned 25, and learns that she has inherited a mansion in Chelsea, that has lain empty for nearly her whole life.
Then Lucy's story. At first we are not sure who Lucy is, but clearly she is important.
And then Miller Roe, a journalist who recently wrote an article about the events that occurred in the mansion in Chelsea.

At first the reader has to deduce the narrator from clues given in the context, but eventually recognition of who has taken over the story becomes automatic.

The threads of the narration weave together, the story bubbles along, and we learn finally the truth of what happened in 16 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea.

My rating: 4.7

I've also read
4.6, I FOUND YOU  

8 January 2020


Synopsis (publisher)

The author of treasured Australian bestseller THE INAUGURAL MEETING OF THE FAIRVALE LADIES BOOK CLUB returns with a novel perfect for your book club

It's 1982 in Australia. THE MAN FROM SNOWY RIVER is a box office hit and Paul Hogan is on the TV.

In a seaside suburb, housewife Theresa takes up swimming. She wants to get fit; she also wants a few precious minutes to herself. So at sunrise each day she strikes out past the waves.

From the same beach, the widowed Marie swims. With her husband gone, bathing is the one constant in her new life.

After finding herself in a desperate situation, 25-year-old Leanne only has herself to rely on. She became a nurse to help others, even as she resists help herself.

Elaine has recently moved from England. Far from home and without her adult sons, her closest friend is a gin bottle.

In the waters of Shelly Bay, these four women find each other. They will survive bluebottle stings and heartbreak; they will laugh so hard they swallow water, and they will plunge their tears into the ocean's salt. They will find solace and companionship, and learn that love takes many forms.

Most of all, they will cherish their friendship, each and every day.

My take

Occasionally I branch out into something that is not crime fiction.

Four very different Australian women find friendship through swimming each morning at a local beach. Through their friendship they find the strength to confront their demons and battle their problems. Over a period of two years their friendship strengthens and their lives all change.

A delightful read.
If you are thinking of it for your book club, the author has provided a list of questions for discussion in the final pages.

My rating: 4.6

I've also enjoyed

7 January 2020

Challenges for 2020

In the long run, I have mostly gone with the challenges that I've focussed on in the last year.
Many of them are personal challenges where I am not joining in an "official" one.
My Challenge page can be found here
The various challenges help me give some focus to my reading., as well as assisting in giving me a sense of achievement.
  • 2020 Good Reads Reading Challenge. I have set my challenge at 120. Currently: 3
  • Good Reads A-Z of titles: Currently: 3
  • Agatha Christie Reading Challenge Completed in 2014, titles read in 2020:0
  • USA Fiction Challenge So far 29/51, this year: 2
  • 2020 Aussie Author Reading Challenge: aiming for 20: currently 0
  • 2020 Australian Women Writers Challenge: aiming for 20. Currently 0
  • Read Around the World 2020: currently 3 
  • British Books Challenge 2020 currently 0
  • 2020 Ebook Reading Challenge currently 0
  • New to me authors - a personal challenge currently  2
  • Not crime fiction - a personal challenge currently 0
  • Nordic reading challenge - a personal challenge, currently 1
  • New Zealand reading challenge -again a personal challenge. currently 0
  • Translated crime fiction - a personal challenge that will overlap with many of the other reading challenges that I have undertaken. currently 1
  • Snagged at the Library currently: 3
  • Audio books: currently: 0
  • 2020 Historical Reading Challenge. Currently: 0

6 January 2020

Review: COLD FEAR,Mads Peder Nordbo

  • this edition published by Text Publishing Australia 2019
  • ISBN 97819111231301
  • 376 pages
  • #2 in Matthew Cave series
  • source: my local library
  • translated by Charlotte Barslund
Synopsis (Text Publishing Australia)

When Danish Journalist Matthew Cave’s half-sister Arnaq disappears, leaving behind only a trail of blood, he realises they are both pawns in a game of life and death.

As a young US soldier stationed in Greenland, their father took part in a secret experiment with deadly consequences. Accused of murder, he was forced into hiding.

Desperate to discover the link between these two disappearances, Matthew is joined by Tupaarnaq, a young Inuit woman, who returns to Nuuk to help her only friend—and to settle a few scores of her own.

But, as things begin to unravel, Matthew begins to wonder: Is the father he has been searching for his entire life actually a cold-blooded murderer? And is Tupaarnaq really who he thinks she is?

My Take:

There are several threads which connect this novel to the earlier title GIRL WITHOUT SKIN and I'm not sure it would work to read it as a stand-alone.

As we learnt in the first novel Danish journalist Matthew Cave has moved to Greenland after personal tragedy. He has links to Greenland as his father was a US soldier stationed there 24 years earlier, but Matthew has always believed he is dead and has not seen him for nearly 25 years. Now he learns that his father is probably alive.

The novel is set in two time frames - the first with his father in Greenland in 1990, taking part in an experiment to improve human and animal tolerance to extreme cold: and the second set in Greenland in 2014 with Matthew investigating some local deaths and searching also for his father.

There are characters in this novel to whom were introduced in the first novel, as well as the current political situation in Greenland.

I found the action of the novel complex and a little difficult to follow at times.

My rating: 4.4

I've also read

3 January 2020

Review: LOCK EVERY DOOR, Riley Sager

  • this edition published by Penguin UK 2019
  • ISBN 978-1-52-901441-7
  • 368 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (publisher)

You've been offered a luxury apartment, rent free. The catch: you may not live long enough to enjoy it…

No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents.
These are the only rules for Jules Larson's new job as apartment sitter for an elusive resident of the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan's most high-profile private buildings and home to the super rich and famous.

Recently heartbroken and practically homeless, Jules accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.

Out of place among the extremely wealthy, Jules finds herself pulled toward other apartment sitter Ingrid. But Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her. Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story - but the next day, her new friend has vanished.

And then Jules discovers that Ingrid is not the first temporary resident to go missing…

Welcome to the Bartholomew…You may never leave.

My take:

The story begins with NOW.

Jules appears to be in a hospital having been hit by a car right outside the Bartholomew. It then goes into a count down, beginning with "Six Days Earlier" which was when Jules became an apartment sitter at the apartment building. Things move pretty quickly. Ingrid another apartment sitter who initially befriended her disappears and the count down continues.

The novel maintains a good level of tension, littering the space with clues about what is going on. However, despite the clues, while I had worked out who was responsible, I had not worked out what was actually going on.

An excellent read.

My rating: 4.7

About the author
Riley Sager is the pseudonym of a former journalist, editor and graphic designer who previously published mysteries under his real name. Now a full-time author, Riley's first thriller, Final Girls, was a national and international bestseller that has been sold in 25 languages. A film version is being developed by Universal Pictures and Anonymous Content. A native of Pennsylvania, he now lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

2 January 2020

New to me authors read October - December 2019

Here is the final list of new-to-me authors for 2019
In total I read 44 new-to-me authors in 2019, 1 in 3 of the books that I read.
  1. 4.4, SHE LIES IN WAIT, Gytha Lodge 
  2. 4.5, RUIN BEACH, Kate Rhodes 
  3. 4.5, A MONTH OF SUNDAYS, Liz Byrski 
  4. 4.7, LAPSE, Sarah Thornton
  6. 4.5, WHAT YOU PAY FOR, Claire Askew
  7. 4.5, GIRL WITHOUT SKIN, Mads Peder Nordbo  
  8. 4.5, THE SILENT PATIENT, Alex Michaelides
  9. 4.5, THE MOTHER-IN-LAW, Sally Hepworth 

Happy Blogiversary MiP

Review: BROKEN BONE CHINA, Laura Childs

  • this edition (large print) published in 2019 by Gale
  • ISBN-13 978-1-4328-5914-5
  • 435 pages
  • #20 in the Tea Shop Mystery series
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Amazon)

It is Sunday afternoon, and Theodosia and Drayton are catering a formal tea at a hot-air balloon rally. The view aloft is not only stunning, they are also surrounded by a dozen other colorful hot-air balloons. But as the sky turns gray and the clouds start to boil up, a strange object zooms out of nowhere. It is a drone, and it appears to be buzzing around the balloons, checking them out. As Theodosia and Drayton watch, the drone, hovering like some angry, mechanized insect, deliberately crashes into the balloon next to them.

An enormous, fiery explosion erupts, and everyone watches in horror as the balloon plummets to the earth, killing all three of its passengers. Sirens scream, first responders arrive, and Theodosia is interviewed by the police. During the interview she learns that one of the downed occupants was Don Kingsley, the CEO of a local software company, SyncSoft. Not only do the police suspect Kingsley as the primary target, they learn that he possessed a rare Revolutionary War Union Jack flag that several people were rabidly bidding on.

Intrigued, Theodosia begins her own investigation. Was it the CEO's soon-to-be ex-wife, who is restoring an enormous mansion at no expense? The CEO's personal assistant, who also functioned as curator of his prized collection of Americana? Two rival antiques' dealers known for dirty dealing? Or was the killer the fiancee of one of Theodosia's dear friends, who turns out to be an employee-and whistle-blower-at SyncSoft? INCLUDES DELICIOUS RECIPES AND TEA TIME TIPS!

My take

An easy gentle read to start the new year with, but probably just a bit too cozy for my tastes, although there is plenty of action and plenty of mystery.

This is the most recent in a long series related to tea and mystery with a well established sleuth. I was fascinated by the linking to modern technologies: mobile phones and email are in frequent use, the "murder weapon" is a drone, and there are references to local terrorism.

My rating: 4.3

About the author

Author Laura Childs is a New York Times bestselling [prolific] author known for penning down the famous mystery series’ including the Cackleberry Club Mysteries, the Scrapbook Mysteries and the Tea Shop Mysteries. The name Laura Childs is actually a pseudonym used by author Gerry Schmitt for writing her novels.... The first series written by her, the “Tea Shop Mysteries” is set in the district of Charleston [Virginia], which has a historical background. The series is based on the life of the main character Theodosia Browning, who is the owner of a tea shop named Indigo Tea Shop.
....Laura has described Theodosia as a savvy businesswoman and the care taker of her dog Earl Gray. She is also an amateur sleuth and likes to solve several crimes based on her intelligence without relying on the insufficient police work or coincidences. The series goes on to show various historical and mysterious aspects of the district of Charleston in a highly atmospheric, rife and charming manner.

Best Reads in 2019

Here are my best reads for 2019
  1. 5.0, THE TURN OF THE KEY, Ruth Ware
  2. 5.0, THE PROMISED LAND, Barry Maitland
  3. 5.0, IN A HOUSE OF LIES, Ian Rankin 
  4. 5.0, THE WOMAN NEXT DOOR, Liz Byrski
  5. 4.8, GOOD GIRL BAD GIRL, Michael Robotham
  6. 4.8, THE CHAIN, Adrian McKinty  
  7. 4.8, THE SCHOLAR, Dervla McTiernan
  8. 4.8, THE MARRIAGE CLUB, Kate Legge 
  9. 4.8, THE NIGHT STALKER, Robert Bryndza
  10. 4.8, NINTH AND NOWHERE, Jeffery Deaver
  11. 4.8, DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS, Jo Spain 
  12. 4.8, SNAP, Belinda Bauer 
  13. 4.8, THE NANNY, Gilly Macmillan
  14. 4.8, LAST BREATH, Robert Bryndza

1 January 2020

What I read in December 2019

Despite the social whirl of the final month of the year, I had a particularly good reading month.
My Pick of the month was shared between 4.8, THE NANNY, Gilly Macmillan and 4.8, DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS, Jo Spain
  1. 4.5, WHAT YOU PAY FOR, Claire Askew
  2. 4.4, A NOISE DOWNSTAIRS, Linwood Barclay
  3. 4.6, THE RIDDLE OF THE THIRD MILE, Colin Dexter - audio book  
  4. 4.7, THE LYING ROOM, Nicci French
  5. 4.4, POIROT'S EARLY CASES, Agatha Christie
  6. 4.4, I KNOW WHO YOU ARE, Alice Feeney
  7. 4.5, GIRL WITHOUT SKIN, Mads Peder Nordbo 
  8. 4.5, SMOKE AND MIRRORS, Elly Griffiths
  9. 4.5, THE SILENT PATIENT, Alex Michaelides 
  10. 4.8, THE NANNY, Gilly Macmillan
  11. 4.6, THE JEWEL THAT WAS OURS, Colin Dexter - audio book
  12. 4.5, THE MOTHER-IN-LAW, Sally Hepworth 
  13. 4.8, DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS, Jo Spain  
See what others have chosen for their Pick of the Month

Pick of the Month - December 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 December 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.

2019 Reading Challenges Goals - ACHIEVED

I was very excited yesterday when I completed reading my final book for 2019 and got to the goal of 120 books which I set myself last year.
The total compares pretty well with what I have managed in previous years
2018 - 123
2017 - 116
2016 - 118
So I expect to read about 10 books a month, but that includes audio books.

I haven't set my goals for 2020 yet, but here is what my reading for 2019 showed: ( you can find the full lists here)
  • 2019 Good Reads Reading Challenge. I completed my goal of 120 books for the year by the narrowest of margins. They weren't all crime fiction, there were some audio books too, but I'm happy that do manage quite a range.
  • Good Reads A-Z of titles: This was a challenge by Good Reads Australia to read 26 books, each title beginning with a different letter of the alphabet. I managed only 20 of the 26, with the letters E, J, V, X, Y, Z  not achieved
  • Agatha Christie Reading Challenge Completed in 2014, titles read in 2019: 2
    Since completing the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge in 2014, I have read very few of the titles again.
  • USA Fiction Challenge So far 21/51, this year: 15The intent of this challenge is to read one title in each state. While I read 15 books set in a USA state, very few of them were from a "new state". Just 12.5% of the books that I read in 2019 were USA
  • 2019 Aussie Author Reading Challenge: I aimed to read at least 20 novels by Australian authors, and read 28.  This means that nearly 25% of what I read was by an Australian author.
  • 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge: with 14 of those Australian books only by an Aussie female author, I was disappointed not to reach my target of 20. aiming for 20.

  • British Books Challenge 2019. I read 69 books that I categorised as British. This is over 50% of my total reading and reflects one of my strong preferences.

  • 2018 Ebook Reading Challenge I was surprised by the fact that I read only 21 books on my Kindle. I'm sure I bought more than that as I have a great many un-read . Even so 1 in every 6 books that I read was an e-book.
  • New to me authors - a personal challenge where I read 44 titles, roughly 1 in every 3
    I publish the lists of these authors every 3 months.
  • Not crime fiction - a personal challenge to try to read more widely. App0roximately one title a month meant that I read 11
  • Nordic reading challenge - a personal challenge where I thought I would read more translated books of Nordic origin. I listed only 2 for the year. Once again a challenge where I have a number of unread titles,
  • New Zealand reading challenge -again a personal challenge where I try to read a specific group of books. I read only 2, so this is a challenge I will try to improve on in 2020
  • Translated crime fiction - a personal challenge that will overlap with many of the other reading challenges that I have undertaken. The fact that I have read so few Nordic titles is reflected in the fact that I have read only 3 titles in this category.
  • Snagged at the Library 79. Nearly 2 in 3 of my books have come through my local library, which provides a wonderful service, giving access to any book held in a  public library in South Australia.
    The system uses an online catalogue where you can search for and reserve books.
  • Audio books: 15 This works out to about one audio book a month, listened to on a regular  weekly journey. For the last 6 months we have been working out way through Colin Dexter's Morse novels and we still have a few to go.
  • 2019 Historical Reading Challenge.  19. I don't plan to read historical novels but I am partial to historical crime fiction.
In coming days I will reveal my "best of" lists.


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