31 December 2022

Out with the Old, In with the New

 Farewell 2022

                                                       Welcome 2023

Review: THE WIFE UPSTAIRS, Rachel Hawkins

  • this edition published by Harper Collins UK 2021
  • ISBN 978-0-00-837752-6
  • 290 pages
  • January 2021 Indie Next Pick and #1 LibraryReads Pick

Synopsis (publisher)

A delicious twist on a Gothic classic, The Wife Upstairs pairs Southern charm with atmospheric domestic suspense, perfect for fans of B.A. Paris and Megan Miranda.

Meet Jane. Newly arrived to Birmingham, Alabama, Jane is a broke dog-walker in Thornfield Estates––a gated community full of McMansions, shiny SUVs, and bored housewives. The kind of place where no one will notice if Jane lifts the discarded tchotchkes and jewelry off the side tables of her well-heeled clients. Where no one will think to ask if Jane is her real name.

But her luck changes when she meets Eddie Rochester. Recently widowed, Eddie is Thornfield Estates’ most mysterious resident. His wife, Bea, drowned in a boating accident with her best friend, their bodies lost to the deep. Jane can’t help but see an opportunity in Eddie––not only is he rich, brooding, and handsome, he could also offer her the kind of protection she’s always yearned for.

Yet as Jane and Eddie fall for each other, Jane is increasingly haunted by the legend of Bea, an ambitious beauty with a rags-to-riches origin story, who launched a wildly successful southern lifestyle brand. How can she, plain Jane, ever measure up? And can she win Eddie’s heart before her past––or his––catches up to her?

With delicious suspense, incisive wit, and a fresh, feminist sensibility, The Wife Upstairs flips the script on a timeless tale of forbidden romance, ill-advised attraction, and a wife who just won’t stay buried. In this vivid reimagining of one of literature’s most twisted love triangles, which Mrs. Rochester will get her happy ending?

My Take

If it hadn't been for the blurb directing me to think of this novel as a "twist on a Gothic classic" and also the naming of the main male character as "Rochester", I  don't think I would have come up with any Gothic associations. However it is an intriguing tale of Southern housewives and in particular Bea who is greedy and grasping and takes ideas from others and makes them her own, almost without realising she is doing it.

It is one of those books that keeps you reading because you want to learn the real story - and there are several versions. There is certainly a mystery to be solved and at least one, possibly two, murders.

My rating: 4.5

About the Author

Rachel Hawkins is the New York Times bestselling author of The Wife Upstairs and Reckless Girls, as well as multiple books for young readers. Her work has been translated in over a dozen countries. She studied gender and sexuality in Victorian literature at Auburn University and currently lives in Alabama.

30 December 2022

Review: SOMETIMES PEOPLE DIE, Simon Stephenson

  • This edition available on Kindle
  • A SUNDAY TIMES Crime Book of the Month and NEW YORK TIMES Editor Pick
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09RPM3CTQ
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ The Borough Press (September 1, 2022)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 353 pages
  • Page numbers source ISBN ‏ : ‎ 0008547610

Synopsis (Amazon)

The year is 1999. Returning to practice after a suspension for stealing opioids, a young Scottish doctor takes the only job he can find: a post as a senior house officer in the struggling east London hospital of St Luke’s.

Amid the maelstrom of sick patients, over-worked staff and underfunded wards a darker secret soon declares itself: too many patients are dying.

Which of the medical professionals our protagonist has encountered is behind the murders? And can our unnamed narrator’s version of the events be trusted?

My Take

A young doctor is caught up in an investigation into a series of deaths in the London hospital he is working in as a junior doctor. Because of his previous history of opioid theft the police treat him as their prime suspect. Eventually all the doctors and nurses come under suspicion.

The narrative is written 20 years later, when the young doctor has finally worked out who was responsible for the deaths of a number of patients. The reader is taken on the journey of discovery that he went through.

Chapters of the book are interspersed with descriptions of people who in history have been healthcare serial killers. In some cases the number of deaths they were responsible for was incredible.

A well cosnstructed novel and an enjoyable read.

My rating: 4.6

About the author


I am from Edinburgh in Scotland, but live now in Los Angeles. I have had stopovers along the way in London and San Francisco.

I’m a writer and screenwriter, and before I became a full-time writer I was a physician.

My new novel, ‘Sometimes People Die’ will be published in September 2022.

I have written two other books. ‘Set My Heart To Five’ came out in 2020. The Washington Post review said that I might be ‘Vonnegut’s first true protege’. You’d better believe I am going to be dining out on that for the rest of my life.

‘Let Not the Waves Of the Sea’, my memoir about losing my brother came out in 2012. It won Best First Book at the Scottish Book Awards, and was serialized on BBC Radio 4.

I’ve worked as a writer on various films including Pixar’s LUCA, PADDINGTON 2, and my own THE ELECTRICAL LIFE OF LOUIS WAIN. Like every other screenwriter in Hollywood, I have a bottom drawer full of unproduced scripts and forgotten promises. So it goes.

Review: THE CROSSING, Matt Brolly

  • #1 of 5 books, available on Kindle
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B07T73RLVN
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Thomas & Mercer (February 14, 2020)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 333 pages

Synopsis (Amazon

An Amazon Charts bestseller.

In a small town full of secrets, everyone’s a suspect.

When a body is discovered, bled dry on a beach, the sleepy seaside town of Weston-super-Mare wakes up to a nightmare. For Detective Inspector Louise Blackwell, recently transferred to the town she last saw as a child, it’s her first case on the job.

The victim—Veronica Lloyd, an elderly volunteer at a local church—has puncture wounds to her hands. When a priest is found killed in a nearby church in a similarly grisly condition, it becomes clear that Blackwell is dealing with a righteous and bloody murderer. But the victims aren’t random. The killer has a vendetta and is hell-bent on exacting twisted revenge for a dark secret dating back years—and there are more murders planned.

As the body count rises, Blackwell faces a race against time to solve the mystery of the murderer’s identity and put an end to the carnage. She thought she knew Weston, but the town holds more secrets than she’d ever have imagined. Who can she trust and who knows more than they are letting on?

She must discover the crimes that unite the victims—before it’s too late.

My Take

There are elements in this first-in-a-series novel that have been common to a number of crime fiction novels recently: female detective, life made more difficult for her by male colleagues than it need be, appears to make a mistake, penalised by her superiors; misses out on promotion, relocated to a position now seen as a demotion, has to step straight up to the plate, with a very puzzling case.

This novel has a well thought out and intriguing plot, with a central character who is at the same time likeable and has potential. 

My rating: 4.5

About the author

Following his law degree, where he developed an interest in criminal law, Matt Brolly completed his master’s in creative writing at Glasgow University.

He is the bestselling author of the DCI Lambert crime novels Dead Water, Dead Eyed, Dead Lucky, Dead Embers and Dead Time; the acclaimed near-future crime novel Zero; and the US-based thriller The Controller.

Matt also writes children’s books as M. J. Brolly. His first is The Sleeping Bug.

Matt lives in London with his wife and their two young children. You can find out more about Matt at www.mattbrolly.co.uk or by following him on Twitter: @MattBrollyUK.


  • This edition available as an e-book on Kindle
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09TS137RK
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Simon & Schuster UK (November 10, 2022)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 351 pages
  • Page numbers source ISBN ‏ : ‎ 1398519820

Synopsis (publisher

Eighteen passengers. Seven stops. One killer.

In the early hours of Christmas Eve, the sleeper train to the Highlands is derailed, along with the festive plans of its travellers. With the train stuck in snow in the middle of nowhere, a killer stalks its carriages, picking off passengers one by one. Those who sleep on the sleeper train may never wake again.

Can former Met detective Roz Parker find the killer before they kill again?

My Take

Recently retired Met detective Roz Parker is on the Christmas Eve train London to Fort William to be with her daughter Heather, who is soon to give birth. After the train leaves she learns that Heather has gone into labour. The train is somewhat predictably derailed in a snow storm after passing through Edinburgh.

And then, also predictably one of the passengers dies violently in a room locked from the inside. Roz's training kicks and she begins to record scene of crime notes. Through her eyes we assess passengers as suspects. When a second passenger also dies violently, the remaining passengers reject Roz's attempts to confine them to the main dining room, and she retreats to her room. But then it becomes obvious that the police will not be able to get to the train at all quickly and Roz needs to work out who is the killer.

The author attempts to confuse the reader with passages narrated by the killer without revealing who it is. In the background the theme of the imminent birth of her grandchild runs a fairly predictable course.

My rating: 4.3

About the author

Alexandra Benedict has been a composer, singer-songwriter, actor, and lecturer in crime fiction, and is now an award-winning writer of novels, short stories and scripts. As AK Benedict, she writes high-concept novels, speculative short stories and scripts. Her first novel, the critically-acclaimed THE BEAUTY OF MURDER, was nominated for the eDunnit Award; her short stories have featured in many anthologies; and her audio drama has been shortlisted for multiple awards including the BBC Audio Drama Award 2020, and, twice, for the Scribe Award, winning it in 2019. As Alexandra Benedict, she writes contemporary tributes and takes on Golden Age crime fiction. THE CHRISTMAS MURDER GAME was an Amazon Fiction Bestseller and was long-listed for the CWA Gold Dagger Award. Her latest novel, MURDER ON THE CHRISTMAS EXPRESS, arrives on November 10th. She lives on the south coast of England with her fiancé, writer Guy Adams, their daughter, and their dog, Dame Margaret Rutherford.

23 December 2022

Review: THE TWYFORD CODE, Janice Hallett

  • This edition provided by my local library
  • Publication date: 21/07/2022
  • ISBN: 9781800815278
  • Imprint: Viper
  • 361 pages 

Synopsis (publisher)

Forty years ago, Steven Smith found a copy of a famous children's book by disgraced author Edith Twyford, full of strange markings and annotations. Wanting to know more, he took it to his English teacher Miss Iles, not realising the chain of events that he was setting in motion. Miss Iles became convinced that the book was the key to a secret code that ran through all Twyford's novels. Then she disappeared on a class field trip, and Steven has no memory of what happened to her.

Now, out of prison after a long stretch, Steven decides to investigate the mystery that has haunted him for decades. Was Miss Iles murdered? Was she deluded? Or was she right about the code? And is it still in use today?

But as Steven revisits the people and places of his childhood, seeking answers, it soon becomes clear that Edith Twyford wasn't just a writer of forgotten children's stories. The Twyford Code has great power, and he isn't the only one trying to solve it... 

My Take

This book not only describes a mystery, but also presents a number of them for the reader to solve. But that is not the only challenge, The narrative is presented as 200 audio files from an iPhone 4 transcribed into text in batches of text files. The iPhone was one of a number of items belonging to a recently reported missing person. 

In the audio files, Steven Smith describes his search for the last teacher who made an impact on him. He tracks down those who were in the same remedial English class as he was 40 years before when his teacher Miss Iles went missing.

But as the reader discovers, Steven's narration, while comprehensive, does not always tell the truth.

I did find the format of the narration challenging, and even at times considered whether I wanted to finish reading the book.

My rating: 4.5

About the author

Janice Hallett studied English at UCL, and spent several years as a magazine editor, winning two awards for journalism. After gaining an MA in Screenwriting at Royal Holloway, she co-wrote the feature film Retreat. The Appeal is inspired by her lifelong interest in amateur dramatics. Her second novel, The Twyford Code, will be published by Viper in 2022. When not indulging her passion for global adventure travel, she is based in West London.

20 December 2022

Review: THE SHADOW MURDERS, Jussi Adler-Olsen

  • this large print edition published 2022 by Penguin Random House
  • made available by my local library
  • translated by William Frost
  • Department Q #9
  • 603 pages

Synopsis (publisher)

In the penultimate thriller in the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling Department Q series, Copenhagen's cold cases division must hunt for a nefarious serial killer who has slipped under the radar for decades.

On her 60th birthday, a woman commits suicide. When the case lands on Detective Carl Morck's desk, he can't imagine what this has to do with Department Q, Copenhagen's cold cases division. It's a tragedy to be sure, but the cause of death seems to be clear. But his superior, Marcus Jacobsen, is convinced that this is not in fact a suicide, but a murder related to an unsolved case that has been plaguing him since 1988.

At Marcus' behest, Carl and the Department Q gang-Rose, Assad, and Gordon-reluctantly begin to investigate. However, they quickly discover that Marcus is on to something: Every two years for the past three decades, there have been unusual, impeccably timed deaths with connections between them that cannot be ignored. As they dig deeper, it transpires that these "accidents" are in fact murders by a very cunning and violent serial killer.

Faced with their toughest case yet, made only more difficult with COVID-19 restrictions and the challenges of their own personal lives, the Department Q team must race to find the culprit before the next murder is committed, as it is becoming increasingly clear that the killer is far from finished. 

My Take

For much of this complex novel I struggled to see where it was going. At first it seemed to be a series of unconnected incidents: the pattern emerged about half way through. 

As always the very existence of Department Q is under scrutiny and threat, and Carl Morck is being threatened himself. There are those in the Police department who are determined to bring Morck down. 

The story is set in 2020, Covid resrictions are in place, and investigations and interviews are difficult. 

The reader is able to follow both sides of the investigation, both the Department Q side, and the continuing case which is destined to result in a murder on Boxing Day. 

The plot is clever and very Danish noir.

My rating: 4.5

I've also read


15 December 2022

Review: THE TILT, Chris Hammer

  • This edition (trade paperback)  published by Allen & Unwin October 2022
  • ISBN:9781761067419
  • 496 pages
  • Awards: Longlisted, Best Fiction, Indie Book Awards, 2023, AU

Synopsis (publisher

A man runs for his life in a forest.

A woman plans sabotage.

A body is unearthed.

Newly-minted homicide detective Nell Buchanan returns to her home town, annoyed at being assigned a decades-old murder - a 'file and forget'.

But this is no ordinary cold case, as the discovery of more bodies triggers a chain of escalating events in the present day. As Nell starts to join the pieces together, she begins to question how well she truly knows those closest to her. Could her own family be implicated in the crimes?

The nearer Nell comes to uncovering the secrets of the past, the more dangerous the present becomes for her, as she battles shadowy assailants and sinister forces. Can she survive this harrowing investigation and what price will she have to pay for the truth?

Gripping and atmospheric, The Tilt is a stunning multi-layered novel by the acclaimed and award-winning author of the international bestsellers Scrublands, Silver, Trust and Treasure & Dirt.

My Take

From my point of view, this really is Chris Hammer's best novel so far. Multi-layered, it has a bit of everything: current political issues, current ecological issues, police procedural, cold cases, mystery, puzzles, linkings between the past and the present, history, and a family saga.

When you read this book, look for the geneaological table in the last pages of the book. I found this so useful that I photocopied it for quick reference.

The last thing that Nell Buchanan expects is for her family to be involved in the unknown skeleton unearthed near the river which is the cold case she is assigned to investigate.

The story also gives an overview of how Australia history from the First World War onwards has affected a small rural town.

I was interested too that some of the current issues that Hammer thinks are impacting on rural Australia coincide with those that Garry Disher referred to in DAY'S END which I read recently. 

And finally, for South Australian readers, you will learn more about the history of the River Murray, very relevant today with the current flooding of the river.

My rating: 4.8

I've also read

11 December 2022

Review: ALL THAT'S LEFT UNSAID, Tracey Lien

  • This edition made available as an e-book by my local library on Libby
  • Published by Harper Collins 2022
  • ISBN: 9780008547080
  • ISBN 10: 0008547084
  • Pages: 352
  • Reading guide

Synopsis (publisher)

There were a dozen witnesses to Denny Tran’s brutal murder in a busy Sydney restaurant. So how come no one saw anything?

‘Just let him go.’ Those are words Ky Tran will forever regret. The words she spoke when her parents called to ask if they should let her younger brother Denny out to celebrate his high school graduation. That night in 1996, Denny – optimistic, guileless, brilliant Denny – is brutally murdered inside a busy restaurant in Cabramatta, a Sydney suburb facing violent crime, an indifferent police force, and the worst heroin epidemic in Australian history.

Returning home for the funeral, Ky learns that the police are stumped by her brother’s case: several people were at Lucky 8 restaurant when Denny died, but each of the bystanders claim to have seen nothing.

As an antidote to grief and guilt, Ky is determined to track down the witnesses herself. With each encounter, she peels away another layer of the place that shaped her and Denny,exposing the trauma and seeds of violence that were planted well before that fateful celebration dinner: by colonialism, by the war in Vietnam,and by the choices they’ve all made to survive.

Tracey Lien's extraordinary debut pulls apart the intricate bonds of friendship, family, culture and community that produced a devastating crime. All That's Left Unsaid is both a study of the effects of inherited trauma and social discrimination, and a compulsively readable literary thriller that expertly holds the reader in its grip until the final page.

My Take

When Ky Tran finds that her parents have no idea how or why her baby brother Denny was killed, that they had refused an autopsy, and that all of those present at the time claim to have seen nothing, she is determined to conduct her own investigation.

Ky is a journalist, and her profession and her own guilt about the way she has left her brother to his own devices, push her to track down those present at Denny's death, convinced that she must be able to work out what actually happened even if the police can't. 

At the same time we are filled in on how Ky and her brother were raised, the cultural values important to them and their parents, and the effects of living in Cabramatta. 

The result is an unusual crime fiction debut novel, raising issues that most Australian readers have never thought about.

My rating: 4.8

About the author
Tracey Lien was born and raised in southwestern Sydney, Australia. She earned her MFA at the University of Kansas and was previously a reporter for the Los Angeles Times. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. All That’s Left Unsaid is her first novel. 

review: DAY'S END, Garry Disher

  • This edition published by Text Publishing 2022
  • ISBN 978192245887
  • 383 pages
  • #4 in the Paul Hirschhausen series

Synopsis (publisher

Hirsch’s rural beat is wide. Daybreak to day’s end, dirt roads and dust. Every problem that besets small towns and isolated properties, from unlicensed driving to arson. In the time of the virus, Hirsch is seeing stresses heightened and social divisions cracking wide open. His own tolerance under strain; people getting close to the edge.

Today he’s driving an international visitor around: Janne Van Sant, whose backpacker son went missing while the borders were closed. They’re checking out his last photo site, his last employer. A feeling that the stories don’t quite add up.

Then a call comes in: a roadside fire. Nothing much—a suitcase soaked in diesel and set alight. But two noteworthy facts emerge. Janne knows more than Hirsch about forensic evidence. And the body in the suitcase is not her son’s.

My Take

Set in Tiverton, a small outback town in wheat and sheep country in South Australia, and set during the ongoing Covid pandemic, the story presents the seamy undercurrent of rural life. Hirsch's work is never done. One thing leads to another and from small fragments big issues grow.

But Hirsch plugs on, following threads with almost unbelievable consequences. Hirsch represents what rural policing is all about.

An excellent read.

My rating: 4.7

About the author
Garry Disher has published over fifty titles across multiple genres. With a growing international reputation for his best-selling crime novels, he has won four German and three Australian awards for best crime novel of the year, and been longlisted twice for a British CWA Dagger award. In 2018 he received the Ned Kelly Lifetime Achievement Award. 

I've also read
4.7, WYATT
4.7, HER
5.0, BITTER WASH ROAD - Hirsch #1 - aka HELL TO PAY
5.0, PEACE- Hirsch #2
5.0, CONSOLATION - Hirsch #3

2 December 2022

Review: INTO THE WATER, Paula Hawkins

  • this large print edition made available by my local library
  • published by Random House USA 2017
  • ISBN 978-0-5254-9620-5
  • 532 pages

Synopsis (Publisher)

A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.
Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return.
With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.
Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath

My Take

 Written from multiple points of view, this novel made me work very hard to ithe action together and to sort the characters out.

Given her preoccupation with the Drowning Pool and her research into its history and the women who had ended their lives there, perhaps it wasn't surprising that Nel Abbott had drowned there. But her sister Jules found it hard to accept and her daughter Lena feels abandoned.

A few weeks earlier Lena's best friend Katie had drowned there too and Katie's parents are grieving and, for some reason, blaming Nel for Katie's death. 

But in the close knit community there are those who don't think Jules should just accept things,

The narrative is interspersed with items that Nel had written as part of here research and a number of the community members add their opinions and narratives. The structure gives the story a rich complexity.

My rating: 4.8 

I've also read

27 November 2022

Review: TRAPPED, Camilla Lackberg & Henrik Fexeus

  • this edition made available by my local library
  • Published by Harper Collins UK 2022
  • ISBN 978-0-00-846419-6
  • 535 pages
  • translated from Swedish by Ian Giles

Synopsis (publisher)

An incredible new thriller you won’t want to put down!

A shocking murder…
It’s a case unlike anything detective Mina Dabiri has seen before. A woman trapped inside a magician’s box, with swords pierced through. But this time, it’s not a magic trick. It’s murder.

A case which twists and turns…
Knowing she has a terrifying killer on her hands, Mina enlists the help of celebrity mentalist, Vincent Walder. Only he can give her an insight into the secret world of magic and illusions.

A ticking clock to stop a serial killer…
Mina and Vincent soon discover that the murder victim has the roman numeral III engraved on her leg. The killer is counting down. There are going to be three more murders. And time is running out.  

My Take

I really am not good with extra long books. About half way through TRAPPED I had the feeling that I wasn't getting anywhere, and thought about returning it to the library unfinished. But I persisted, as I usually do, and I am glad that I did.

Mentalist Vincent Walder has been co-opted to join a Stockholm police investigation into two murders . The second body has been discovered in an illusionist's cabinet. From the moment he is included in the investigation team, Vincent clearly shows that he thinks "differently". In many ways he and detective Mina Dabiri, who is the one who invited him to join the team, are kindred spirits. But Vincent understands aspects of the murders that the "ordinary" detectives don't.

Eventually Vincent works out what the threads are connecting three murders but is unwilling to accept the evidence that there will be a fourth.

A cleverly plotted book with real elements of mystery.

I've also read 4.5, THE STONECUTTER by Camilla Lackberg

My rating: 4.8

About the authors

Born in 1974, Camilla Läckberg lives in a suburb of Stockholm with her three children. After graduating from Gothenburg University of Economics, she moved to Stockholm where she worked for a few years as an economist. However, a course in creative crime writing became the trigger to a drastic change of career. The same week her son was born in August 2002, her first novel Isprinsessan, (The Ice Princess) was accepted for publication. Camilla is now a worldwide bestseller renowned for her thrillers featuring Detective Patrik Hedström and his wife, crime writer Erica Falck. Her novels are al based in Fjällbacka, the small fishing village where Camilla was born. Her hobbies are cooking – she's written a cookbook with a chef called Flavours from Fjällbacka – and spending time with friends.

Henrik Fexeus is a Swedish mentalist, author and TV-host. Since 2005 he is a frequent guest, as expert on body language and non-verbal communication, in television and newspapers including for Expressen at the Swedish Crown Princess Victoria's wedding and for Aftonbladet during the US SuperTuesday 2016.

24 November 2022

Review: RUN TIME, Catherine Ryan Howard

  • This edition made available as an e-book by my local library on Libby
  • Publication date 11 Aug 2022
  • Publisher Atlantic Books, Imprint Corvus
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 448 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1838951660
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1838951665

Synopsis (Amazon)

Movie-making can be murder.

The project
Final Draft, a psychological horror, being filmed at a house deep in a forest, miles from anywhere in the wintry wilds of West Cork.

The lead
Former soap-star Adele Rafferty has stepped in to replace the original actress at the very last minute. She can't help but hope that this opportunity will be her big break - and she knows she was lucky to get it, after what happened the last time she was on a set.

The problem
Something isn't quite right about Final Draft. When the strange goings-on in the script start to happen on set too, Adele begins to fear that the real horror lies off the page... 

My Take

Adele Rafferty has reached the point when she thinks no-one will ever ask her to work in a movie again. She has decided not to waste money on an agent, because she believes her reputation, and what happened on set when she was last under contract, will precede her.

So she is really surprised by the phone call asking how quickly she can flying from LA to Ireland to begin filming in a new movie. But the cast and management that she joins in West Cork are marked by their lack of experience, despite the fact that the producer appears to have a strong reputation.

The author has attempted a very ambitious structure for the novel, with a story within a story, with events in real time mirroring events described in the script.

For most of the time Adele feels she really has no idea what is going on, or, more importantly, who is behind the events occurring. 

I found the book a challenging read. There was almost the feeling at the end of having coming out of a dark tunnel, Like Adele herself, you can't help wondering how much of "action" is stemming from Adele's own mental fragility. And yet the various threads do make sense by the end.

Rating: 4.4

I've also read


  • this edition an e-book on Kindle (Amazon)
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09WTDGPHW
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Thomas & Mercer (November 9, 2022)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 271 pages 
  • A Yorkshire Murder Mystery #8


A puzzling locked-room mystery that puts someone Oldroyd loves in terrible danger…

When a film shoot on Wharfedale’s vintage railway turns into a grisly crime scene, DCI Oldroyd’s idyllic visit to the countryside with his partner Deborah is well and truly stopped in its tracks. One of the film’s stars has been shot dead in a train carriage while the cameras rolled outside. But nobody else went in—or came out. Has the killer really pulled off the perfect, impossible crime?

Scouring the victim’s past for clues, Oldroyd soon unearths a string of heartbroken lovers and a mountain of unpaid debts, each adding to the growing list of suspects. But before he can determine who the culprit is, there’s the small matter of figuring out how they did it. A potential connection to a previous tragedy offers Oldroyd a much-needed lead…

Whoever the perpetrator is, they are ruthless and determined to avoid detection, and when a railway worker starts joining the dots, they are quickly silenced—for good. But as Oldroyd gets ever closer to the truth, it’s only a matter of time before he is given a chilling warning to back off.

Perhaps Deborah should have stayed somewhere safe… 

My Take

This is another of those small British crime fiction e-book series which I thoroughly enjoy reading. There are a number of characters who have been in the series from the beginning, and others recently introduced. The plots are generally engaging, credible and well fleshed out.

Strictly speaking the murder of an actor at Wharfedale is not really a case for DCI Oldroyd but the local police feel a little out of their depth and ask Oldroyd to take charge. And then as the case looks like it won't be wound up in a hurry, Oldroyd has the idea of getting his partner Deborah to book into the local hotel. There is a second murder and Deborah is snatched while out on a walk in the hills.

The first murder takes place in a railway carriage and has all the features of a locked room mystery. No-one apart from the victim is seen going into or coming out of the railway carriage. As Oldroyd is forced to step back from the case he works out how it was done, and then why the second murder was committed. There are still some surprises for the reader.

Rating: 4.5

I've also read

22 November 2022


Synopsis (publisher)

At nearly ninety, retired nature writer Hattie Bloom prefers the company of birds to people, but when a fall lands her in a nursing home she struggles to cope with the loss of independence and privacy. From the confines of her 'room with a view' of the carpark, she dreams of escape. Fellow 'inmate', the gregarious, would-be comedian Walter Clements also plans on returning home as soon as he is fit and able to take charge of his mobility scooter.

When Hattie and Walter officially meet at The Night Owls, a clandestine club run by Sister Bronwyn and her dog, Queenie, they seem at odds. But when Sister Bronwyn is dismissed over her unconventional approach to aged care, they must join forces -- and very slowly an unlikely, unexpected friendship begins to grow.

Full of wisdom and warmth, The Great Escape from Woodlands Nursing Home is a gorgeously poignant, hilarious story showing that it is never too late to laugh -- or to love. 

My Take

In my U3A reading group, where I am almost the only crime fiction addict, their job, I tell them, is to interest me in reading something outside my genre. And occasionally they do.

It helped that I had already read and enjoyed another by this author.

Hattie Bloom is determined that her stay in the Woodlands Nursing Home will be short, and thinks constantly of the owls in her big tree at home. But as the local health authorities assess her home they produce a report that says there is a lot of work to be done. And Hattie becomes involved too in the life of others in the Nursing Home.

A very enjoyable novel showing a lot of empathy for those who find themselves in Hattie's predicament.

My rating: 4.5

I've also read

19 November 2022

Review: CUTTER'S END, Margaret Hickey

  • This edition made available by my local library as an e-book on Libby
  • e-book published 3 August 2021
  • ISBN: 9781761044168
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Pages: 384

Synopsis (publisher)

An award-winning crime thriller, set in the South Australian outback town of Cutters End. A mysterious death on New Year’s Eve 1989 leads to a shocking murder investigation 32 years later . . .

A desert highway. A remote town. A murder that won’t stay hidden.

New Year’s Eve, 1989. Eighteen-year-old Ingrid Mathers is hitchhiking her way to Alice Springs. Bored, hungover and separated from her friend Joanne, she accepts a lift to the remote town of Cutters End.

July 2021. Detective Sergeant Mark Ariti is seconded to a recently reopened case, one in which he has a personal connection. Three decades ago, a burnt and broken body was discovered in scrub off the Stuart Highway, 300km south of Cutters End. Though ultimately ruled an accidental death, many people - including a high-profile celebrity - are convinced it was murder.

When Mark’s interviews with the witnesses in the old case files go nowhere, he has no choice but to make the long journey up the highway to Cutters End.

And with the help of local Senior Constable Jagdeep Kaur, he soon learns that this death isn’t the only unsolved case that hangs over the town... 

My Take

There is always something fascinating about reading crime fiction set in a geographic area which you know well, in this case, the Australian state in which I live.

Back in the days when we thought hitching rides was relatively safe, Ingrid Mathers took a ride she will remember for the rest of her life.

32 years on Mark Ariti, an Adelaide Detective Sergeant, temporarily promoted to Acting Inspector, is asked to investigate what appears to be a cold case. A television personality has insisted that the police should thoroughly investigate a death death 30 years earlier which she is convinced was murder.  Mark is the perfect choice because he knows one of the people who gave evidence back then when the case was fresh.

Mark Ariti agrees to take the case as he feels it may get him out of the career slump he is currently in. It take him north to Port York (fictitious town) and then up the Stuart Highway to Cutter's End, a fictitious ex-opal mining town.

What chance does Mark have of finding new evidence? None you would think, but that is not quite true.

An excellent read. Certainly an author to watch.

There is an extra bonus of Reading Group Questions at the end of the book, as well as some Author Q & A.

Rating: 4.7

About the author

Margaret Hickey is an award-winning author and playwright from North East Victoria. She has a PhD in Creative Writing and is deeply interested in rural lives and communities. She is the author of Cutters End and Stone Town.

17 November 2022

Review: THE IT GIRL, Ruth Ware

  • This edition made available as an e-book through my local library on Libby
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Gallery/Scout Press (July 12, 2022)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 431 pages
  • Page numbers source ISBN ‏ : ‎ 1982155264

Synopsis (Amazon)

April Clarke-Cliveden was the first person Hannah Jones met at Oxford.

Vivacious, bright, occasionally vicious, and the ultimate It girl, she quickly pulled Hannah into her dazzling orbit. Together, they developed a group of devoted and inseparable friends—Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily—during their first term. By the end of the year, April was dead.

Now, a decade later, Hannah and Will are expecting their first child, and the man convicted of killing April, former Oxford porter John Neville, has died in prison. Relieved to have finally put the past behind her, Hannah’s world is rocked when a young journalist comes knocking and presents new evidence that Neville may have been innocent. As Hannah reconnects with old friends and delves deeper into the mystery of April’s death, she realizes that the friends she thought she knew all have something to hide…including a murder.

My Take

Hannah Jones believes she may have been responsible for an innocent man spending ten years in jail. It proved to be the rest of his life. John Neville was jailed mainly on the evidence that Hannah gave, but now she believes she may been wrong, and that the murderer is still at large.

At the time that April was murdered Hannah's husband, Will, was April's boy friend. And even Will is not above suspicion. As Hannah tries to work out who was where when April died, she realises that even those who are closest to her are not above suspicion.

A very readable story, and intriguing. The only problem I have is with the title.

Like many other readers, I really didn't see the end coming.

My rating: 4.6

I've also read


Review: CULHWCH ALPHA, G.R. Jordan

  • This book available as an e-book on Kindle (Amazon)
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B08YY1NMVF
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Carpetless Publishing (May 9, 2021)
  • #12 in the Highlands & Islands Detective series
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 219 pages

Synopsis (Amazon)

A routine call to muster on a North Sea oil rig. One man short and a body found hanging in the canteen. High above the raging sea, can Macleod and McGrath uncover the underbelly of fear to reveal a brutal killer?

Six months into production and the death of a well-liked colleague rips apart the community on Scotland’s newest oil rig. But beneath the camaraderie and sense of loss, broods a sense of fear and control. As a killer extends their sights to multiple targets, can Macleod stop the murders before the shift completes its final day.

When the sea becomes your cage there’s nowhere left to hide!

My Take

This is really a variant on a locked-room mystery. A murder has taken place on a North Sea oil rig and Macleod and his team know the murderer is still on the rig. However there is a limited time people can be kept on the rig, and while they narrow the list of suspects down to 20, some are due to return home within hours.

So Macleod is coordinating an investigation both on the rig and back on nearby islands and the mainland. As they get closer somebody tries to eliminate McGrath.

This time the plot struggles to hold itself together and I got the feeling the author was juggling a few too many balls, and occasionally I struggled to make sense of the connections.  It all seemed to come together at the end, but I think Macleod seemed out of his depth at times.

Rating: 4.3

I've also read

Review: THE SATCHEL, G. R. Jordan

  •  This book available as an e-book on Kindle (Amazon)
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B08V22KVZH
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Carpetless Publishing (March 20, 2021)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 221 pages
  • #11 in the Highlands & Islands Detective series

Synopsis (Amazon)

A bag is found hanging on a lonely tree in an Inverness park. Inside, a morbid collection of fists tell a tale of murder and intrigue. Can Macleod find the killer and stop a second show of hands?

Battle-weary Macleod must seek to understand a murderer’s obsession when a bag of appendages turns up in a local park. But as the links between the victims become more apparent, the possible identities of the killer increase. Can Macleod sift the wheat from the chaff and stop the killer before another bag is full?

Don’t raise your hand if you know what’s good for you!

My Take

This series really has me hooked

The gruesome discovery of a satchel full of 8 right hands hanging from a tree near a popular picnic spot near Inverness sparks a hunt by Macleod's team to identify their owners. Some of the hands have been recently detached, while others belong to people who have been missing for some time. And what have their owners done to deserve this sort of treatment?

The team discovers that two satchels were bought at the same time, and so there are some people still in danger of becoming victims. It is a race to find them, and then to convince them that they are in danger.

The team is well established now and the main characters are clearly defined.

Rating: 4.4

Others in the series that I have read

6 November 2022

Review: BETTER THE BLOOD, Michael Bennett

  • this book made available by my local library as an e-book through Libby
  • Published Simon & Schuster (in Australia), August 2022
  • Length: 336 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781398512221

Synopsis (publisher)


Hana Westerman is a tenacious Māori detective juggling single motherhood and the pressures of her career in Auckland’s Central Investigation Branch. When she’s led to a crime scene by a mysterious video, she discovers a man hanging in a secret room. As Hana and her team work to track down the killer, other deaths lead her to think that they are searching for New Zealand’s first serial killer.

With little to go on, Hana must use all her experience as a police officer to try and find a motive to these apparently unrelated murders. What she eventually discovers is a link to an historic crime that leads back to the brutal bloody colonisation of New Zealand.

When the pursuit becomes frighteningly personal, Hana realises that her heritage and knowledge are their only keys to finding the killer.

But as the murders continue, it seems that the killer's agenda of revenge may include Hana – and her family . .

My take

It is unusual for me to read a book in a single day, but that is what happened here. And I came away feeling that I had learnt so much, particularly about what has happened to the Maori people in New Zealand.

The setting is Auckland. The scenario a killer who wants his crimes noticed by one person in particular, so he sens her videos alerting her. And Hana Westerman is clever enough to work where those videos have been shot, and then eventually to learn what is behind them.

An absolutely fascinating read.

Rating: 5.0

About the Author

Michael Te Arawa Bennett (Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Whakaue) is an award-winning screenwriter, director and author.

His first book, a non-fiction novel telling the true story of New Zealand’s worst miscarriage of justice, In Dark Places, won Best Non-Fiction Book at the 2017 Ngaio Marsh Awards. Michael’s second book, Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas is a time-travel graphic novel co-authored with Ant Sang.

Michael’s short films and feature films have won awards internationally, and have screened at numerous international festivals including Cannes, Toronto, Berlin, Locarno, New York, London and Melbourne. Michael is the 2020 recipient of the Te Aupounamu Māori Screen Excellence Award, in recognition of members of the Māori film-making community who have made high-level contributions to screen storytelling.

He lives in Auckland, Aotearoa (New Zealand) with his partner Jane, and children Tīhema, Māhina and Matariki.

5 November 2022

Review: THE KILLING CODE, Ellie Marney

  •  this book made available by my local library through Libby
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (September 20, 2022)
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 384 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 031633958X
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0316339582
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 14 years and up
  • Grade level ‏ : ‎ 9 and up

Synopsis (Amazon)

A historical mystery about a girl who risks everything to track down a vicious serial killer, for fans of The Enigma Game and Last Night at the Telegraph Club.

Virginia, 1943: World War II is raging in Europe and on the Pacific front when Kit Sutherland is recruited to help the war effort as a codebreaker at Arlington Hall, a former girls’ college now serving as the site of a secret US Signal Intelligence facility. But Kit is soon involved in another kind of fight: government girls are being brutally murdered in Washington DC, and when Kit stumbles onto a bloody homicide scene, she is drawn into the hunt for the killer.
To find the man responsible for the gruesome murders and bring him to justice, Kit joins forces with other female codebreakers at Arlington Hall—gossip queen Dottie Crockford, sharp-tongued intelligence maven Moya Kershaw, and cleverly resourceful Violet DuLac from the segregated codebreaking unit. But as the girls begin to work together and develop friendships—and romance—that they never expected, two things begin to come clear: the murderer they’re hunting is closing in on them…and Kit is hiding a dangerous secret. 

My Take

Aimed at a young adult audience, this story combines historical detail with a thriller/mystery. At times the fact that it has a YA audience peeks through, but in general the story is plausible and well-told. 

Two girls employed by the government have recently been murdered and group of four decide to try to track down the murderer. They use their skills as code breakers working in a secret US facility to develop a profile of the murderer and liaise with a journalist from the Washington Post to entrap him.

Running in the background are a couple of other strands: Kit Sutherland's hidden background, the role of girls in codebreaking, and the treatment of black girls despite the role they are playing.

Rating: 4.4 

About the Author
Ellie Marney is an New York Times bestselling author of crime thrillers. Her titles include the Aurealis-winning None Shall Sleep, White Night, the Every series and the companion novel No Limits, and the Circus Hearts series. Her books are published in ten countries, and have been optioned for television. She’s spent a lifetime researching in mortuaries, talking to autopsy specialists, and asking former spies about how to make explosives from household items, and now she lives quite sedately in southeastern Australia with her family. Her latest book is The Killing Code, an intense mystery about female codebreakers hunting a serial killer against a backdrop of 1940s wartime Washington DC. You can find out more about Ellie and her books at www.elliemarney.com or online @elliemarney.

3 November 2022

Review: BLACK RIVER, Matthew Spencer

  • this book made available as an e-book on Libby through my local library
  • author website
  • eBook ISBN: 9781761064388
  • Publisher: Allen & Unwin
  • Publication Date: 31 May 2022
  • Page Extent: 352

Synopsis (author website)

A long, burning summer in Sydney. A young woman found murdered in the deserted grounds of an elite boarding school. A serial killer preying on victims along the banks of the Parramatta River. A city on edge.

Adam Bowman, a battling journalist who grew up as the son of a teacher at Prince Albert College, might be the only person who can uncover the links between the school murder and the 'Blue Moon Killer'. But he will have to go into the darkest places of his childhood to piece together the clues. Detective Sergeant Rose Riley, meanwhile, is part of the taskforce desperately trying to find the killer before he strikes again. Adam Bowman's excavation of his past might turn out to be Rose's biggest trump card or it may bring the whole investigation crashing down, and put her own life in danger.

My take

According to booksellers, this new novel has simply flown off the shelves.

Part Australian police procedural, part psychological thriller. A police taskforce is investigating a serial killer who has already killed two young women in their houses close to each other on the banks of the Parramatta River near Sydney. Now a third body is found. But it doesn't follow the pattern set in the first two murders. So is it also the work of BMK? There are some doubts.

By chance an online newspaper The National sends Adam Bowman to the scene, a house in the grounds of a boarding school, as a backup journalist. Adam knows how to avoid the police presence on the gate, because he lived in the grounds when he was a teenager. On a hunch, Adam is used by the investigating team to release select pieces of the investigation, and through him information about the principal and other staff becomes known.

A well constructed and very authentic-feeling novel. An author to be watched.

My rating: 4.6 

About the author

Matthew Spencer was a journalist at The Australian for twenty years, with long stints running the Foreign News desk and as Opinion Editor. He has written for newspapers and magazines in Uganda and Kenya and been published in The Australian Financial Review and The Sydney Morning Herald.

Matthew has an Honours degree in English Literature from the University of Sydney. Black River is his first novel.

He was born in Parramatta. The son of teachers, he lived with his sister Kate on the 320-acre campus of a boys’ boarding school. Long summers on the largely deserted property while exploring the remnant bush with its tributary of the Parramatta River inspired the book.

Black River is published by Allen and Unwin and is out now.

Matthew lives in Sydney with his wife, Ritu Gupta, and their three children.

30 October 2022

Review: THEY CAME TO BAGHDAD, Agatha Christie

  • this edition published in 2017, by Harper Collins
  • first published 1951
  • ISBN 978-0-00-819635-6
  • 294 pages

Synopsis (agathachristie.com)

Baghdad is the chosen location for a secret summit of superpowers, concerned but not convinced, about the development of an, as yet, unidentified and undescribed secret weapon.

Only one man has the proof that can confirm the nature of this fantastic secret weapon – a British agent named Carmichael. Unfortunately the criminal organisation responsible for the weapon’s development will stop at nothing to prevent him entering Baghdad and presenting his proof to the assembled delegates. Can Carmichael enter the city against such odds?

Into this explosive situations appears Victoria Jones, a girl with a yearning for adventure who gets more than she bargains for when a wounded Carmichael dies in her arms in her hotel room.

Now, if only she could make sense of his last words ‘…Lucifer…Basrah…Lefarge…

My Take

Dedicated to "All My Friends in Baghdad", this story is based around an impending meeting, taking place after World War II, of the superpowers America and Russia.  It gave the author an opportunity to vaunt her knowledge of archaeology and of Islamic/Arabic culture.

I first reviewed it on this blog ten years ago. I am re-reading it with my U3A Agatha Christie group, and it will be our last book for this year.

I was surprised to find that it really had so many connections to PASSENGER TO FRANKFURT which we read recently and which was published 20 years later. 

Among them are

  • a nefarious organisation siphoning of funds to use for evil purposes
  • the disappearance of talented young from all walks of life (also raised in DESTINATION UNKNOWN) and their dedication to "making the world a better place"
  • the conflict between ideologies
  • the possibility of World War III
  • the cult of the young Siegfried
  • the idea that World War II concluded unsatisfactorily and really left more problems than it solved.

Trivia Quiz to try

Things I have found out

  • They Came to Baghdad was first published in the UK in eight abridged instalments in John Bull magazine from January to March 1951, and in Canada, in an abridged version in Star Weekly Complete Novel, a magazine supplement published in Toronto, in September 1951.
  • the full version was then published in March 1951 by the Collins Crime Club
  • Victoria, the heroine/detective, never appears in another Agatha Christie novel

My rating: 4.3

My list of Agatha Christie novels 

Agatha Christie Reading Challenge 

29 October 2022

Review: EXILES, Jane Harper

  • this edition published Pan Macmillan Australia 2022
  • ISBN 978-1-76078-395-2
  • 410 pages
  • #3 in the Aaron Falk series

Synopsis (publisher)

At a busy festival site on a warm spring night, a baby lies alone in her pram, her mother vanishing into the crowds.

A year on, Kim Gillespie's absence casts a long shadow as her friends and loved ones gather deep in the heart of South Australian wine country to welcome a new addition to the family.

Joining the celebrations is federal investigator Aaron Falk. But as he soaks up life in the lush valley, he begins to suspect this tight-knit group may be more fractured than it seems. Between Falk's closest friend, a missing mother, and a woman he's drawn to, dark questions linger as long-ago truths begin to emerge. 

My Take

Kim Gillespie disappeared a year earlier, on the opening night of the wine festival, and so the investigation now has a cold case feel about. However her daughter Zara is convinced her mother is still alive.

There has been some talk of whether Kim committed suicide, jumping into a local dam, an effect of some mental health issues. But those who know her best think that would be unlikely, although everybody agrees that they haven't actually seen Kim to talk to since her baby was born.

Pamphlets are distributed at the wine festival asking people to think about when they last saw Kim on the night that she disappeared. 

A second element is the death of a popular local accountant in a hit and run case six years earlier. Aaron Falk finds himself drawn into both cases.

This novel has a surprisingly gentle feel to it, and events seem to move very slowly, yet we know we will have the answer at the end. The setting is "South Australian wine country" and that has caused discussion in our group about exactly where. 

A good one for "overseas" readers. It has a truly Australian flavour about it.

My rating: 4.8

I've also read

4.7, THE DRY- Falk #1
5.0, FORCE OF NATURE- Falk #2

Review: THE FEATHER THIEF: the Natural History Heist of the Century, Kirk Wallace Johnson

  • This edition made available as an e-book by my local library through Libby
  • Published: 4th June 2019. Random House UK
  • ISBN: 9780099510666
  • 320 pages

Synopsis (publisher

A page-turning story of a bizarre and shocking crime, and one man’s relentless quest for justice.

One summer evening in 2009, twenty-year-old musical prodigy Edwin Rist broke into the Natural History Museum at Tring, home to one of the largest ornithological collections in the world. Once inside, Rist grabbed as many rare bird specimens as he was able to carry before escaping into the darkness.

Kirk Wallace Johnson was waist-deep in a river in New Mexico when his fly-fishing guide first told him about the heist. But what would possess a person to steal dead birds? And had Rist paid for his crime? In search of answers, Johnson embarked upon a worldwide investigation, leading him into the fiercely secretive underground community obsessed with the Victorian art of salmon fly-tying.

Was Edwin Rist a genius or narcissist? Mastermind or pawn? 

My Take

A fascinating story right outside my usual genre, although a crime is committed, and there is a mystery perhaps still unsolved.

The first section of the book gives the reader the background to founding of the Natural History Museum at Tring, originally founded by Lord Rothschild, to house an incredible ornithological collection. The man who collected the birds that formed the basis of the collection played a role in formulating the science of evolution. At the same time as he and others were collecting rare and beautiful birds, feathers became a mark of wealth in fashion, particularly on hats.

But in a bizarre twist they became much sought after by Fly-Tiers, and this is where Edwin Rist, musical prodigy and fly-tier afficionado comes into the story.

When the author learns of the Tring Heist, in which Rist stole 299 bird carcases, he has a strong feeling that justice has not been served, and the book is his account of trying to sort the wood from the trees.

My rating: 4.6

About the Author

Kirk Wallace Johnson served in Iraq with the US Agency for International Development in Baghdad and Fallujah as the Agency’s first co-ordinator for reconstruction in the war-torn city. He went on to found The List Project to Resettle Iraqi Allies. His work on behalf of Iraqi refugees was profiled by This American Life, 60 Minutes, the Today Show, the subject of a feature-length documentary, The List, and a memoir, To Be a Friend is Fatal.

A Senior Fellow at the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy, and the recipient of fellowships from the American Academy in Berlin, Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and the Wurlitzer Foundation, his writing has appeared in The New Yorker, the New York Times and the Washington Post . He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, son and daughter.

22 October 2022

Review: THE CORAL BRIDE, Roxanne Bouchard

  • This edition an e-book on Kindle (Amazon)
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0885YZQD6
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ ORENDA BOOKS (August 12, 2020)
  • Translated into English from French
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 356 pages
  • Detective Morales #2
  • **SHORTLISTED for Crime Writers of Canada: Best French Crime Novel**

Synopsis (Amazon)

It's not just the sea that holds secrets

When an abandoned lobster trawler is found adrift off the coast of Quebec's Gaspé Peninsula, DS Joaquin Moralès begins a straightforward search for the boat's missing captain, Angel Roberts a rare female in a male-dominated world. But Moralès finds himself blocked at every turn by his police colleagues, by fisheries bureaucrats, and by his grown-up son, who has turned up at his door with a host of his own personal problems.

When Angel's body is finally discovered, it's clear something very sinister is afoot, and Moralès and son are pulled into murky, dangerous waters, where old resentments run deep.

Exquisitely written, with Bouchard's trademark lyrical prose, The Coral Bride evokes the power of the sea on the communities who depend on it, the never-ending struggle between the generations, and an extraordinary mystery at the heart of both.

My Take

Those most affected by Angel Roberts' death want the authorities to believe that she committed suicide. But thanks to a Prologue we, the readers, are pretty sure that it is murder, but it isn't until the very end that DS Joaquin Moralès can put the scenario together, and apportion the blame.

The book's journey takes us down several paths, not only what happened to Angel, but also the personal events occurring in Morales world. Angel Roberts is a woman in a man's world, and her fight to be accepted on her own terms reflects the fight many women have had in the 21st century.

There are cultural issues too, which also reflect what has happened in our world. 

An interesting but demanding read. 

My rating: 4.5

About the author

Roxanne Bouchard she learned to sail 10 years ago, first on the St Lawrence River, before taking to the open waters off the Gaspé Peninsula. The local fishermen soon invited her aboard to reel in their lobster nets, and Roxanne saw for herself that the sunrise over Bonaventure never lies. Her fifth novel (first translated into English) We Were the Salt of the Sea was published in 2018 to resounding critical acclaim, sure to be followed by its sequel, The Coral Bride. She lives in Quebec. David Warriner translates from French and nurtures a healthy passion for Franco, Nordic, and British crime fiction. Growing up in deepest Yorkshire, he developed incurable Francophilia at an early age. Emerging from Oxford with a modern languages degree, he narrowly escaped the graduate rat race by hopping on a plane to Canada—and never looked back. More than a decade into a high-powered commercial translation career, he listened to his heart and turned his hand again to the delicate art of literary translation. David has lived in France and Quebec, and now calls beautiful British Columbia home.

15 October 2022


  • This edition an e-book on Kindle (Amazon)
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0B69W5748
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Four Tails Publishing Ltd. (August 1, 2022)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 299 pages
  • #5 in the Welsh Mystery series

Synopsis (Amazon)

THE DUKE’S REPUTATION IS IN PERIL – can the women of the WISE ENQUIRIES AGENCY save the day?

Henry Devereaux Twyst, eighteenth duke of Chellingworth, is desperate to disprove murderous rumors about his ancestor before his first child is born, so he enlists the help of the women of the WISE Enquiries Agency.

However, Annie is working undercover – on a case that turns out to be more deadly than anyone had imagined, and Carol is finding it difficult to juggle her responsibilities – especially when faced with a puzzling theft in the village. Meanwhile, Christine is consumed with fears about Alexander's shady colleagues, and Mavis is trying to manage the dowager's dispute with the local vicar.

In the fifth WISE Enquiries Agency Mystery stately Chellingworth Hall, and the charming Welsh village of Anwen-by-Wye, both of which have more than their fair share of quirky inhabitants, are once again subjected to a host of problems that need to be solved…and the WISE women are ready to use their considerable skills to do so.

My Take:

The women of the WISE Enquiries Agency juggle several balls in this outing, among them an attempt to investigate the truth about the thirteenth Duke, thought to have murdered a couple of locals. 

I enjoyed the character development in this novel, and the complexity of the plot lines.

My rating: 4.4

I've also read

7 October 2022


  • this edition an e-book from Amazon (Kindle)
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B08J6D7993
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ HarperCollins (March 3, 2022)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 412 pages 

Synopsis (Amazon

Unlock the mystery. Only you hold the key…

In a beautiful old apartment block, deep in the backstreets of Paris, secrets are stirring behind every resident’s door.

The lonely wife
The party animal
The curtain-twitcher
The secret lover
The watchful caretaker
The unwanted guest

There was a murder here last night.
Who holds the key to the mystery of apartment three?

My Take

Ben's half-sister Jess is arriving from London. She talks to Ben on the phone, but when she arrives at his very exclusive apartment building three hours later the gates are locked and he is gone.

Jess manages to find her way into the building and then into Ben's apartment which she know is on the third floor.

The story focuses on Jess's search for Ben, her quest to find out what has happened to him. There are 5 apartments, plus a concierge's cabin. Ben is a journalist and Jess suspects that he is chasing a story but when she finds his wallet and the keys to his Moped she suspects foul play. She thinks perhaps the residents of the apartments know what has happened to him, but they are blocking her efforts at discovery.

Gradually Jess begins to discover what Ben has previously found out about the residents.

As with most of Foley's other books there are a couple of twists in the tale. There are multiple narratives, and a lot of juggling of past and present, just to keep the reader on his/her toes.

My rating: 4.7

I've also read

5 October 2022

Review: MARPLE: TWELVE NEW STORIES, Agatha Christie and 12 others

  • This edition an e-book from Amazon on Kindle
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09DNJ4ZZD
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ HarperCollins (September 15, 2022)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 379 pages
  • by Agatha Christie, Naomi Alderman, Leigh Bardugo, Alyssa Cole, Lucy Foley, Elly Griffiths, Natalie Haynes, Jean Kwok, Val McDermid, Karen M. McManus, Dreda Say Mitchell, Kate Mosse, Ruth Ware

Synopsis (publisher)

Agatha Christie’s legendary sleuth, Jane Marple, returns to solve twelve baffling cases in this brand-new collection, penned by a host of acclaimed authors skilled in the fine art of mystery and murder

One doesn't stop at one murder...

Jane Marple is an elderly lady from St Mary Mead who possesses an uncanny knack for solving even the most perplexing puzzles. Now, for the first time in 45 years, Agatha Christie’s beloved character returns to the page for a globe-trotting tour of crime and detection.

Join Marple as she travels through her sleepy English village and around the world. In St Mary Mead, a Christmas dinner is interrupted by unexpected guests; the Broadway stage in New York City is set for a dangerous improvisation; bad omens surround an untimely death aboard a cruise ship to Hong Kong; and a bestselling writer on holiday in Italy is caught in a nefarious plot. These and other crimes committed in the name of love, jealousy, blackmail, and revenge are ones that only the indomitable Jane Marple can solve.

Bringing a fresh twist to the hallmarks of a classic Agatha Christie mystery, these twelve esteemed writers have captured the sharp wit, unique voice, and droll ingenuity of the deceptively demure detective. A triumphant celebration of Christie’s legacy and essential reading for crime lovers, Marple is a timely reminder why Jane Marple remains one of the most famous detectives of all time.

This collection of twelve original short stories, all featuring Jane Marple, will introduce the character to a whole new generation. Each author reimagines Agatha Christie’s Marple through their own unique perspective while staying true to the hallmarks of a traditional mystery.
· Naomi Alderman
· Leigh Bardugo
· Alyssa Cole
· Lucy Foley
· Elly Griffiths
· Natalie Haynes
· Jean Kwok
· Val McDermid
· Karen M. McManus
· Dreda Say Mitchell
· Kate Mosse
· Ruth Ware

Miss Marple was first introduced to readers in a story Christie wrote for The Royal Magazine in 1927 and made her first appearance in a full-length novel in 1930’s The Murder at the Vicarage. It has been 45 years since Agatha Christie’s last Marple novel, Sleeping Murder, was published posthumously in 1976, and this collection of ingenious new stories by twelve Christie devotees will be a timely reminder why Jane Marple remains the most famous fictional female detective of all time.

"Each of the twelve authors captures Christie—and Marple—perfectly, while also displaying just a bit of her own unique touch. . . . This new and entertaining collection by some of our favorite writers will hook a new group of readers to the formidable Miss Marple." — Rhys Bowen, Washington Post

My Take

95 years after Miss Marple made her first appearance in 1927 in a short story called The Tuesday Night Club, here she comes to life again. I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of new Miss Marple short stories. The writers were committed to producing authentic and believable stories. Readers who know their Marple mysteries will recognise characters and settings that appeared in the original novels and short stories, as well as appreciating what each of these writers has tried to do.

My rating: 4.7

Agatha Christie Short Stories


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