29 November 2020


  • Format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File size : 625 KB
  • Print length : 337 pages
  • Publisher : Orion (1 October 2020)
  • ASIN : B086SNF147
  • #23 in the Rebus series

Synopsis (Amazon)

When his daughter Samantha calls in the dead of night, John Rebus knows it's not good news. Her husband has been missing for two days.

Rebus fears the worst - and knows from his lifetime in the police that his daughter will be the prime suspect.

He wasn't the best father - the job always came first - but now his daughter needs him more than ever. But is he going as a father or a detective?

As he leaves at dawn to drive to the windswept coast - and a small town with big secrets - he wonders whether this might be the first time in his life where the truth is the one thing he doesn't want to find...

My take

Here's a treat for all Rankin fans: with all the old crew summoned to attendance.: John Rebus, Siobhan Clarke and Malcolm Fox. Rebus of course is retired and Siobhan has just been helping him move into a ground floor apartment (his health isn't so good and he has been having trouble climbing stairs. Then comes the phone call from his daughter and Rebus drives north to her even though he realises he probably won't be welcome.

Siobhan is on leave, having taken time off to help Rebus move, but there is a murder case which she wants to be part of. And in the way of all good crime fiction, coincidences abound, there are links between Rebus' "new case" and the murder Siobhan is working on. And Malcolm Fox finds himself being snagged by that personification of evil, Big Ger Cafferty.  

My rating: 4.8

I've also read

4.4, WITCH HUNT - writing as Jack Harvey


5.0, IN A HOUSE OF LIES   #22

27 November 2020


  • format: e-book on Kindle (Amazon)
  • File size : 8812 KB
  • Print length : 292 pages
  • Publisher : Scribner (26 March 2013)
    first published 1981
  • Language: : English
  • #1 in the Richard Jury & Melrose Plant series

Synopsis (Amazon)

Long Piddleton had always been wary of newcomers. But the quiet town was stunned when the first stranger was found dead, upended in a butt of ale in the cellar of the Men with a Load of Mischief. Then the second body appeared, swinging in place of the mechanical man above the door of the Jack and Hammer.

Suddenly Long Piddleton had good reason to be wary of everyone! Its cozy pubs and inns with their polished pewter and blazing hearths had become scenes of the most bizarre crimes. Who were the victims? And who was the murderer? A stranger? A maniac? Or the disarmingly friendly man next door?

My take

This isn't the first that I've read in this series, but it has been a long time, certainly before this blog was started. There is a Golden Age, almost antiquarian flavour, to the novel, and murders abound. It is the first novel in the series and introduces D.I. Richard Jury and dilettante Melrose Plant, and a range of other interesting characters. The action is set in some colourfully named pubs.

An enjoyable read particularly if you are looking for a series with a Golden Age flavour.

My rating: 4.4

About the author 

Martha Grimes b. 1931, is one of the few authors left carrying on the British detective mystery tradition, and doing it well. Scotland Yard Superintendent Richard Jury and sidekick Melrose Plant are in the third decade of their clever, darkly humorous crime-solving careers. There are 25 books in this series, with the last written in 2019

20 November 2020

Review: SILENT KILL, Jane Casey

  • Format: kindle e-book (Amazon)
  • File size : 796 KB
  • Publication date : August 6, 2020
  • Word Wise : Enabled
  • Print length : 100 pages
  • Publisher : HarperCollins (August 6, 2020)
  • Language: : English
  • A novella between #8 and #9 of the Maeve Kerrigan series

Synopsis (Amazon

A murder in broad daylight…
A teenage girl is killed on a London bus. The case should be simple. The bus was full of witnesses, and there are cameras everywhere.
A hunt for a killer…
But the more DC Georgia Shaw and her colleagues Maeve Kerrigan and Josh Derwent delve into the crime, the more elusive the answers become.
A case that spirals out of control…
It seems impossible that no one saw anything, but soon the leads run cold. Will they uncover what really happened, or will the killer get away with murder?
For fans of the Maeve Kerrigan series, this is a story with a difference. Told from Georgia’s point of view, we see Maeve and Josh from the outside…like you’ve never seen them before.

My Take

A quick read, this has the feeling of a full-fledged novel, a strong plot, an investigation, lots of suspects, strong characters, the victim an unpleasant school girl, the murderer a person who has just had enough, a murder that was never meant to happen.

I thoroughly enjoyed.

My rating: 4.6

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19 November 2020

Review: THE SILENCE, Susan Allott

  • e-book made available through Libby through my local library
  • Publisher : The Borough Press (1 May 2020)
  • ASIN : B07ZG7ZT2V
  • Language: : English
  • Print length : 304 pages 


It is 1997, and in a basement flat in Hackney Isla Green is awakened by a call in the middle of the night: her father, Joe, phoning from Sydney.  

30 years ago, in the suffocating heat of summer 1967, the Greens’ next-door neighbour Mandy disappeared. Joe claims he thought she had gone to start a new life; but now Mandy’s family is trying to reconnect, and there is no trace of her. Isla’s father was allegedly the last person to see her alive, and he’s under suspicion of murder.

Back home in Sydney, Isla's search for the truth takes her back to 1967, when two couples lived side by side on a quiet street by the sea. Could her father be capable of doing something terrible? How much does her mother know? And is there another secret in this community, one which goes deeper into Australia’s colonial past, which has held them in a conspiracy of silence?

Deftly exploring the deterioration of relationships and the devastating truths we keep from those we love, The Silence is a stunning debut from a rising literary star.

My Take

It is very rare for me to read a book within 24 hours. But I have, so let that fact be testament to how much I enjoyed this book.

On the surface this mystery is about the disappearance of a young woman, essentially a cold case that a police officer hushed up, brought on by the nature of her husband's shameful job.  

This book is one of those rare combinations: crime fiction and a poke at Australia's history.  I'd love to be able to claim Susan Allott as an Australian writer, but she is British. But she has been able to bring to this novel a very significant understanding of something in Australian history that for decades people tried to gloss over.

My rating: 4.8 

About the author

Susan Allott is from the UK but spent part of her twenties in Australia, desperately homesick but trying to make Sydney her home. In 2016 she completed the Faber Academy course, during which she started writing this novel. She now lives in south London with her two children and her very Australian husband.

18 November 2020

Review: THE HOUSE ON FRIPP ISLAND, Rebecca Kauffman

  • this edition published in Great Britain 2020
  • by www.serpentstail.com
  • ISBN 9-781788-165204
  • 319 pages 
  • source: my local library

Synopsis (publisher)

A taut, page-turning novel of secrets and strife. When two families - one rich, one not - holiday together off the coast of South Carolina, little do they know that someone won't be returning home.
Fripp Island, South Carolina, is the perfect destination for the wealthy Daly family: Lisa, Scott, and their two girls. For Lisa's childhood friend, Poppy Ford, the resort island is a world away from the one she and Lisa grew up in -and when Lisa invites Poppy's family to join them, how can she turn down an all-expenses paid vacation for her husband and children?

But everyone brings secrets to the island, distorting what should be a convivial, relaxing summer on the beach. Lisa sees danger everywhere, while Poppy watches over her husband John and his routines with a sharp eye. It's a summer of change for all of the children too, who are exposed to new ideas and different ways of life as they forge a bond of their own.

While revelations from the past and present unfold, the book builds to a shocking event that will shake your sense of justice and leave you wanting to talk about crime and retribution. 

My Take

We know from the very beginning that someone has drowned, but not until near the end just who the victim is. We even know that it is murder, but not who is responsible. 

But even so, the murder really comes out of left-field. 

The build up consists of an exploration of the relationships within and between the two families. Each of the adults in particular have secrets, and a sinister element intrudes when Lisa recognises the name of someone on a sex-predator list. There is an indication that neither sets of parents knows their children as well as they think they do. One is a secret drinker, another grows pot, but their parents have no idea.

There is a sense of a ghost watching over things from on-high.

I didn't particularly like the ending of the book. It posed problems that weren't all that well re-solved.

My rating: 4.3

About the author

Rebecca Kauffman is originally from rural Ohio. She studied Classical Violin Performance at the Manhattan School of Music before receiving an MFA in Creative Writing from NYU. Her previous novels are Another Place You've Never Been and The Gunners. She currently lives in Virginia. 

15 November 2020

Review: A ROOM MADE OF LEAVES, Kate Grenville

  • this edition published by textpublishing 2020
  • 322 pages
  • ISBN 9781922330024
  • source: my local library

Synopsis (textpublishing)

What if Elizabeth Macarthur—wife of the notorious John Macarthur, wool baron in the earliest days of Sydney—had written a shockingly frank secret memoir? And what if novelist Kate Grenville had miraculously found and published it? That’s the starting point for A Room Made of Leaves, a playful dance of possibilities between the real and the invented.

Marriage to a ruthless bully, the impulses of her heart, the search for power in a society that gave women none: this Elizabeth Macarthur manages her complicated life with spirit and passion, cunning and sly wit. Her memoir lets us hear—at last!—what one of those seemingly demure women from history might really have thought.

At the centre of A Room Made of Leaves is one of the most toxic issues of our own age: the seductive appeal of false stories. This book may be set in the past, but it’s just as much about the present, where secrets and lies have the dangerous power to shape reality.

Kate Grenville’s return to the territory of The Secret River is historical fiction turned inside out, a stunning sleight of hand by one of our most original writers.

My Take

It is very tempting to regard this book as definitive history of life in the early colony of New SouthWales, but both the author and the narrator remind us that it is "faction", a fiction that is a possible interpretation of the rather skimpy evidence available. However it serves to remind us of us difficult life in those times was, nothing like the life we live now. How did women like Elizabeth Macarthur survive and how much of the male legacy from those times is actually due to the women who accompanied them?

A very good read, with a touch of mystery and a little spice to keep the interest level up.

My Rating: 4.8

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Review: THE SECOND SLEEP, Robert Harris - audio book

  • format: audiobook from Audible
  • Narrated by: Roy McMillan
  • Length: 9 hrs and 21 mins
  • Release date: 08-22-19 
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio
  • Language: English
  • Unabridged Audiobook


The latest novel from Robert Harris: chosen as a Book of the Year by The Times, Sunday Times, Guardian, Telegraph, Mail on Sunday, and Express.

What if your future lies in the past?

Dusk is gathering as a young priest, Christopher Fairfax, rides across a silent land.

It’s a crime to be out after dark and Fairfax knows he must arrive at his destination – a remote village in the wilds of Exmoor – before night falls and curfew is imposed.

He’s lost and he’s becoming anxious as he slowly picks his way across a countryside strewn with the ancient artefacts of a civilisation that seems to have ended in cataclysm.

What Fairfax cannot know is that, in the days and weeks to come, everything he believes in will be tested to destruction, as he uncovers a secret that is as dangerous as it is terrifying....

My Take

You might want to challenge some of my categories for this book. I've said it is not crime fiction although crimes have been committed. And I've said it is historical although it is set in the future.

The first challenge for the reader is to work when this novel is actually set. Dates are given that challenge our ideas of chronology.  How can a book that is set in future feel so much like it is set in medieval times? What has happened to "our world"?

I saw some reviews that said this book went nowhere - that the initial idea was good but the result was disappointing. I actually thought it gave us a lot to think about.

My rating: 4.4

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8 November 2020

Review: THOSE PEOPLE, Louise Candlish

  • format: e-book made available through Libby
  • File size : 7763 KB
  • Print length : 386 pages
  • Publisher : Simon & Schuster UK (27 June 2019)
  • Language: : English 

Synopsis (Amazon)


Until Darren and Jodie move in, Lowland Way is a suburban paradise. Beautiful homes. Friendly neighbours. Kids playing out in the street. But Darren and Jodie don't follow the rules and soon disputes over loud music and parking rights escalate to threats of violence.

Then, early one Sunday, a horrific crime shocks the street. As the police go house-to-house, the residents close ranks and everyone's story is the same: They did it.

But there's a problem. The police don't agree. And the door they're knocking on next is yours. 

My take

The middle class neighbours in Lowland Way are living life their way, and have even won an award for their community ideas. But now one of the elderly owners has died and someone else has moved in. They don't share the same ideals, play loud music all the time, don't have kids, and couldn't care less about the community.

Things go from bad to worse and the original community leaders come up with plans to get rid of Darren and Jodie. The plan back-fires and someone is accidentally killed.

The police seem to be constantly around and the death is called a homicide. 

A very believable, if at the same time improbable, story of what can happen when ordinary people are taken to the brink. Families fall apart and the most unlikely come up with wicked schemes.

A great read.

My rating: 4.6

I've also read

1 November 2020

What I read in October 2020

 My reading appears to have slowed down a bit this month, not helped by the length of a couple of books

  1. 4.4, THE MYSTERY OF THREE QUARTERS, Sophie Hannah - audio book 
  2. 4.8, TROUBLED BLOOD, Robert Galbraith
  3. 4.7, OUR HOUSE, Louise Candlish
  4. 4.8, THE SURVIVORS, Jane Harper - Australian author  
  5. 4.4, THE KILLINGS AT KINGFISHER HILL, Sophie Hannah - audio book
  6. 4.5, FOLLOW THE DEAD, Lin Anderson

Review: FAIR WARNING, Michael Connelly

  • format: e-book made available through my local library on Libby
  • File size : 1088 KB
  • Publication date : May 26, 2020
  • Print length : 325 pages
  • Publisher : Allen & Unwin (May 26, 2020)
  • ASIN : B081ZR4TYF (Amazon)
  • Jack McEvoy #3

Synopsis (Amazon

Jack McEvoy has taken down killers before, but when a woman he had a one-night stand with is murdered in a particularly brutal way, he realises he might be facing a criminal mind unlike any he's ever encountered.

Jack investigates against the warnings of the police and his own editor, walking a thin line between investigation and obsession, and makes a shocking discovery, connecting the crime to other mysterious deaths across the country. But then he himself becomes a suspect, and as he races to clear his name, Jack's findings point to a serial killer who uses personal data shared by the victims themselves to select and hunt his targets.

My Take

Jack McEvoy originally appeared in THE POET in 1996. Now, over 20 years on, he is an investigative journalist for a website called Fair Warning. (The author tells us that this site actually exists, https://www.fairwarning.org/, and that he is on its board. Myron Levin, the founder and editor of the site also appears in this book)

Jack is interviewed by FBI agents about the death of a woman that he dated once. When they tell him that they have DNA from the scene he voluntarily gives his own DNA to prove that it wasn't him. The woman died from AOD (internal decapitation) and Jack discovers that she is one of a number of cases with similar deaths. He also discovers that all of the victims had recently sent their DNA to a cheap DNA research company, who pass anonymous DNA results out into the community to fund their work.
Jack works with colleagues at the Fair Warning website to investigate these cases and then pulls in Rachel Walling, ex-FBI, to assist. Rachel is also a character from THE POET.

There are a number of issues of concern raised in the novel such as how much control there is over how DNA results are used, who gets access to them, and the political implications of the novel have not suited all readers.
I was reminded of a novel that I read last year THE ONE, by John Marrs where DNA is used to find people's life-long partners. And then there have been other crime fiction DNA-based novels such as WICKER by Kevin Guilfoyle, DIRTY LITTLE LIES by John Macken and JAR CITY by Arnaldur Indridason (see more )

What interested me in particular in FAIR WARNING was Connelly's revival of the original investigative duo of Jack McEvoy and Rachel Walling after such a long gap. That in itself was unusual. And it seems likely that we will meet them again in the future.

Plenty to think about in this book.

My rating: 4.5

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