30 January 2023

Review: DAUGHTERS OF EVE, Nina. D. Campbell

  • This edition made available as an e-book by my local library through Libby
  • Paperback: 376 pages
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Allen & Unwin; 1st edition (29 March 2022)
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1761065386
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1761065385 

Synopsis (Amazon)

When a high-profile murder lands literally at her feet, Detective Emilia Hart sees a chance to expand her caseload beyond the endless succession of domestic violence matters she is forced to investigate. But this is no simple investigation.

Another body turns up, then another. Then more - a lot more. All men, all shot, with a similar MO. It's not until a manifesto taking credit for the crimes is published by a group calling themselves Daughters of Eve that Hart confirms a link between the victims: all of them had been perpetrators themselves. All had offended against women or children. Few had been charged with those crimes - and none convicted.

As panic sets in and chaos rules the streets, the police draw ever closer to the Daughters of Eve, but the serial killer continues to elude them. Again, Hart sees something that everyone else has missed. And what that is, she cannot believe.

A stunning debut that will take you to the edge and dare you to look down. 

My Take

Detective Emilia Hart is leaving court after a stressful day when the barrister crossing the road alongside her drops dead, shot by a sniper. As the bodies pile up in the next few days, Hart discovers common threads, bringing to a male dominated police investigation a female intuition that makes connections that the men just don't see. 

The case begins in Sydney but similar cases begin to turn up, first in Melbourne, then in other capital cities, and even in regional ones. As the body count mounts, a national task force is created, men take to the streets, and the government puts soldiers on the streets.

At first I enjoyed this novel, but then new layers were added to the plot, and there were just too many eggs in the basket, too many balls in the air, and there was only one way this tale could end, and even that had a twist in the tail.

Underneath the crime fiction, this story has a socio-political agenda. It points out to the reader the level of domestic violence in our communities, and the need for the sort of government action that would happen if it was actually the case of a single serial killer in action. 

I'm sure this will be a popular novel, certainly a memorable one, raising issues that are already recognised by quite a number of community programmes, but ones that do not appear to be having as much effect as they should at the local, largely hidden, level, despite the lip service and financial backing that they seem to get.

My rating: 4.3

About the Author
Nina D. Campbell studied theatre and literature at university before stumbling into the world of work in the midst of the recession that we had to have. She cobbled together a respectable career as a professional writer, working across the community and public sectors, before a midlife health challenge changed her priorities. Nina now writes fiction full-time, with a focus on stories about strong women. Together with her partner and their spirited Jack Russell Terrier, she lives in South Australia, close to world class wine regions, sparkling beaches and other tempting delights.

26 January 2023

Review: THE GILDED CAGE, Camilla Lackberg

  • this title made available as an e-book by my local library on Libby
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ HarperCollins GB (23 March 2020)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 352 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0008283729
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0008283728
  • Translated by Neil Smith
  • #1 in the Faye Adelheim series
  • Sequel title: SILVER TEARS 

Synopsis (publisher)

A sexy, sensational novel with intoxicating vengeance and an unexpected tenderness’ ...

A woman who has everything…

People would kill to have Faye Adelheim’s life. She lives in a beautiful apartment, she has a gorgeous husband who gives her everything she’s ever wanted, and she has an adorable daughter who lights up her world.

Or does she?

So how is it, then, that Faye now finds herself in a police station?

The truth is about to come out…

The truth is that Faye’s life is far from what it seems. And now she’s been caught out. There’s no way she’s going down without a fight. The only question is – who will escape with their life?

My Take

Like many married women Faye Adelheim's purpose in life appears to be to make her husband's life easier. Few of those who know her know that she was originally the brains behind her husband's very successful business. But even her husband doesn't really know who Faye really is. But by the end of the book we, the readers, do.

This translated-from-Swedish crime thriller, by Sweden's "Queen of Crime" begins with much more erotic scenarios and action than we British/Australian readers are generally used to.  But keep going... all will become clear and I promise you an enjoyable and thought provoking read, even a bit of escapism.

A cleverly constructed novel chosen for our book group related to the theme of gaslighting.

    Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that often occurs in abusive relationships. It is a covert type of emotional abuse in which the bully or abuser misleads the target, creating a false narrative and making them question their judgments and reality.1 Ultimately, the victim of gaslighting starts to feel unsure about their perceptions of the world and even wonder if they are losing their sanity. 
There is a sequel to the novel, SILVER TEARS, which I have already put my name now for. The copy that I read of THE GILDED CAGE had a promo for the sequel, which follows on from the twist at the end of THE GILDED CAGE.

My rating: 4.6

I've also read


with Henrik Fexeus: 4.8, TRAPPED 

24 January 2023

Review: LORD EDGWARE DIES, Agatha Christie

  • This edition available from Amazon as an e-book on Kindle 
  • Originally published 1933
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0BN5NJZJK
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ November 22, 2022
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 259 pages
  • My earlier review

Synopsis (Amazon)

When Lord Edgware is found murdered the police are baffled. His estranged actress wife was seen visiting him just before his death and Hercule Poirot himself heard her brag of her plan to “get rid” of him.

But how could she have stabbed Lord Edgware in his library at exactly the same time she was seen dining with friends? It’s a case that almost proves to be too much for the great Poirot.

Lord Edgware Dies was among the first of Christie's works to be adapted for film. In 1934 Austin Trevor took on the role of Poirot for the third time, directed by Henry Edwards. Peter Ustinov also starred in this story in 1985, under the original US title Thirteen at Dinner.

My Take 

I am planning to read another 10 Agatha Christie novels this year with my U3A Agatha Christie Reading Group. Of course I have read them all before, but that doesn't seem to prevent me from getting something out of the re-reading and discussion. My earlier review from 14 years ago.

I'm sure my reading group will enjoy this one. It is well-plotted with considerable misdirection and a number of red herrings.

I made considerable use this time of a note making facility in the Kindle which allows me to keep records of passages and my reactions to them. It helps me pay greater attention to the plot lines.

The story, Christie's 13th novel, and the 7th with Poirot in it, is narrated by Captain Hastings who makes sure he gets our attention by saying
"...from Poirot’s own peculiar private point of view, the case was one of his failures. He always swears that it was the chance remark of a stranger in the street that put him on the right track. However that may be, it was his genius that discovered the truth of the affair. But for Hercule Poirot I doubt if the crime would have been brought home to its perpetrator."

In the end Poirot blames himself for at least one of the deaths. It is actually Hastings who makes the blunder but Poirot excuses Hastings by saying he cannot be expected to recognise danger, because he is so accepting of people at face value. Whereas he Poirot has been used as a "cats-paw" by the murderer at least once.

In the long run it is quite a tangled plot and Poirot finds it hard to resolve the questions he has set himself.

At the end Hastings publishes a letter from the murderer which I felt it would have been out of character for Poirot to publish. However there was something similar in THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD.

I am looking forward to our group discussion in a few weeks time. We will follow the discussion with a viewing of the David Suchet version, which I see has Miss Lemon in it.

I am also going to raise the question of the significance of the US Title THIRTEEN AT DINNER,

My rating: 4.7

My list of Agatha Christie novels

21 January 2023

Review: THE DESCENT, Matt Brolly

  •  This edition an e-book on Kindle (Amazon)
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0838ZYNWB
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Thomas & Mercer (July 23, 2020)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 364 pages
  • #2 in the Detective Louise Blackwell series

Synopsis (Amazon)

Were they pushed to the edge—or over it?

In the quiet coastal town of Weston-super-Mare, a body is discovered at the foot of a cliff just months after a near-identical tragedy—and Detective Inspector Louise Blackwell can’t believe it could be a coincidence.

Next to the body, she discovers a note that echoes one found beside the first: Death is not the end. Louise is certain that behind these desperate acts someone is pulling the strings, but how many more will plunge to their demise before she can find out who—and why?

Struggling to stay focused under the strain of her troubled brother’s disappearance with his young daughter, Louise hits a much-needed breakthrough when a third tragedy points to the involvement of a charismatic cult leader. The suspect is within her sights, but he knows she’s on to him…

Short on proof and with the body count rising, can Louise intercept his deadly mission—or has she taken on an unbeatable foe? 

My Take

The characters and scenarios in this series are building nicely. DI Louise Blackwell is a believable character, surrounded by characters who were established in the first in this police procedural series, THE CROSSING 

Blackwell has to fight hard as her boss puts pressure on her to solve a difficult case in the shortest possible time. 

Meanwhile she is distracted as her brother goes missing with his young daughter, and then it is revealed that he has severe gambling debts as well as a drinking problem. Louise is torn between giving her all to her job, and the thought that her young niece is in danger.

This looks a good series to follow.

My Rating: 4.5

I've also read

4.5, THE CROSSING - #1

17 January 2023

Review: AFTER YOU WERE GONE, Vikki Wakefield

  • This edition made available as an e-book by my local library on Libby
  • Extent: 368pp
  • Text Publishing Australia:5 October 2022
  • ISBN: 9781922458001
  • Read an extract

Synopsis (publisher)

What happens to a family when a child goes missing?

In a busy street market, Abbie lets go of six-year-old Sarah’s hand. She isn’t a bad mother, just exhausted. When she turns around, her daughter isn’t there.

Six years later, Abbie is in love and getting married. But her fragile peace is constantly threatened: not knowing what happened to Sarah is like living with a curse.

Then she receives a phone call from an unknown number.

A man claims to know what happened to Sarah, but if Abbie tells anyone or fails to follow his instructions, she’ll never find out. How far will Abbie go to know the truth?

Prize-winning and hugely popular author Vikki Wakefield turns her hand to the psychological thriller in this unputdownable novel that will disturb your dreams!

My Take

Abbie has always blamed herself for losing Sarah, but she has never stopped looking for her.

This novel has a very adventurous time structure, with frequent use of chapter headings BEFORE, NOW, and, sometimes AFTER. The story line jumps between time frames, allowing to the reader to put together a picture of the life Abbie led, and eventually, who took Sarah. 

If you were Abbie, what would you do if someone offered you the unthinkable, to reunite you with the child you lost six years ago. What would you sacrifice?

A very jarring novel.

My rating: 4.6

About the Author
Vikki Wakefield writes fiction for adults and young adults. Her novels All I Ever Wanted, Friday Brown, Inbetween Days and Ballad for a Mad Girl have been shortlisted for numerous awards. This Is How We Change the Ending was a Book of the Year in the 2020 CBCA Awards. After You Were Gone, a psychological thriller, is her first novel for adults....


15 January 2023

Review: THE MAID. Nita Prose

  • This title made available as an e-book on Libby by my local library
  • Published: 2nd February 2022, Harper Collins
  • ISBN: 9780008435738
  • 352 pages

Synopsis (bookseller)

I am your maid.
I know about your secrets. Your dirty laundry.
But what do you know about me?

Molly the maid is all alone in the world. A nobody. She’s used to being invisible in her job at the Regency Grand Hotel, plumping pillows and wiping away the grime, dust and secrets of the guests passing through. She’s just a maid – why should anyone take notice?

But Molly is thrown into the spotlight when she discovers an infamous guest, Mr Black, very dead in his bed. This isn’t a mess that can be easily cleaned up. And as Molly becomes embroiled in the hunt for the truth, following the clues whispering in the hallways of the Regency Grand, she discovers a power she never knew was there. She’s just a maid – but what can she see that others overlook?

Escapist, charming and introducing a truly original heroine, The Maid is a story about how the truth isn’t always black and white – it’s found in the dirtier, grey areas in between.

My Take

 Molly is 25 and she works a hotel as a maid. Until recently she lived with her grandmother who was instrumental in getting her her job. But 9 months ago her grandmother died and now all Molly has is her job, her flat, and her walk to work.
Molly takes great pride in being the best that she can be, in her ability to restore the rooms she cleans to perfection. She has few friends, basically only those she works with, and really Molly is not a good judge of people.

And then her world changes when she discovers one of the guests dead on his bed. She had cleaned the suite of rooms earlier but had returned later in the day to "do" the bathroom, and found Mr Black very dead.

Eventually the police charge Molly with murder, and now she finds out who her real friends are.

As you read you will discover that there is something a little different about Molly....

My rating: 4.4

About the author

As for my professional life, I work in the publishing industry. I began years ago as an intern, photocopying edited manuscripts and secretly snooping the fascinating margin conversations between editors and writers. Currently, I’m vice president and editorial director at Simon & Schuster in Toronto, Canada, where I have the privilege of working with an incredible array of authors and publishing colleagues whom I credit with teaching me, manuscript by manuscript, book by book, the wondrous craft of writing.

14 January 2023

Review: AGATHA CHRISTIE: A Very Elusive Woman, Lucy Worsley

  • This edition published By Hodder & Stoughton, Great Britain 2022
  • ISBN 978-1-528-30388-9
  • 415 pages

Synopsis (publisher

Nobody in the world was more inadequate to act the heroine than I was.'

Why did Agatha Christie spend her career pretending that she was 'just' an ordinary housewife, when clearly she wasn't? As Lucy Worsley says, 'She was thrillingly, scintillatingly modern'. She went surfing in Hawaii, she loved fast cars, and she was intrigued by the new science of psychology, which helped her through devastating mental illness.

So why - despite all the evidence to the contrary - did Agatha present herself as a retiring Edwardian lady of leisure?

She was born in 1890 into a world which had its own rules about what women could and couldn't do. Lucy Worsley's biography is not just of an internationally renowned bestselling writer. It's also the story of a person who, despite the obstacles of class and gender, became an astonishingly successful working woman.

With access to personal letters and papers that have rarely been seen, Lucy Worsley's biography is both authoritative and entertaining and makes us realise what an extraordinary pioneer Agatha Christie was - truly a woman who wrote the twentieth century. 

My Take

An impressive non-fiction work that covers Agatha Christie's whole life, written by a person who is quite obviously a "fan", well versed in the events of Christie's life and the books she has written.

I've also just watched, and can recommend, the first of the documentaries (4?) based on the book.

I was glad to see that Worsley shares some of my own impressions of the importance of Agatha Christie in crime fiction. She refers to some of Christie's plot strategies as Christie's "tricks" and refers to the way they made a difference to what we expect from crime fiction as a genre. The book has also sowed a few seeds that will influence my interpretation of the Christie novels that I intend reading this year.

My rating: 5.0

About the Author

Lucy Worsley OBE is Chief Curator at the charity Historic Royal Palaces and also presents history documentaries for the BBC. Her bestselling books include Queen Victoria, Jane Austen at Home, A Very British Murder, If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home, Courtiers, Cavalier and four historical novels for young readers. In 2019 her BBC One programme Suffragettes with Lucy Worsley won a BAFTA. 

10 January 2023

Review: STONE TOWN, Margaret Hickey

  • Published: 1 July 2022
  • ISBN: 9780143777274
  • Imprint: Bantam Australia
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 416
  • #2 Detective Sergeant Mark Ariti

Synopsis (publisher)

STONE TOWN is captivating new rural crime drama from the author of the bestselling Cutters End.

With its gold-rush history long in the past, Stone Town has seen better days. And it’s now in the headlines for all the wrong reasons . . .

When three teenagers stumble upon a body in dense bushland one rainy Friday night, Senior Sergeant Mark Ariti’s hopes for a quiet posting in his old home town are shattered. The victim is Aidan Sleeth, a property developer, whose controversial plan to buy up local land means few are surprised he ended up dead.

However, his gruesome murder is overshadowed by a mystery consuming the entire nation: the disappearance of Detective Sergeant Natalie Whitsed.

Natalie had been investigating the celebrity wife of crime boss Tony ‘The Hook’ Scopelliti when she vanished. What did she uncover? Has it cost her her life? And why are the two Homicide detectives, sent from the city to run the Sleeth case, so obsessed with Natalie’s fate?

Following a late-night call from his former boss, Mark is sure of one thing: he’s now in the middle of a deadly game . . .

My Take

The sequel to CUTTER'S END. Mark Ariti has been appointed to his home town of Stone Town, in South Australia's mid north. His quiet life is disrupted by the discovery of a body in the bush, and then the arrival of reinforcements from Adelaide, with an additional interest in locating a missing CID detective.

The main narrator is Mark Ariti, but a second narrative thread hints ta what has happened to Natalie Whitsed. 

A cleverly constructed story. 

My rating: 4.6 

I've also read


9 January 2023

Review: BLEEDING HEART YARD, Elly Griffiths

  • this edition published by Quercus Great Britain 2022
  • ISBN 978-1-52940-996-3
  • 340 pages
  • #3 in the Harbinder Kaur series

Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

A murderer strikes at a school reunion—but the students are no strangers to death— in this propulsive, twisty thriller from the internationally bestselling author of the Ruth Galloway Mysteries

Is it possible to forget that you’ve committed a murder?

When Cassie Fitzgerald was at school in the late 90s, she and her friends killed a fellow student. Almost twenty years later, Cassie is a happily married mother who loves her job—as a police officer. She closely guards the secret she has all but erased from her memory.

One day her husband finally persuades her to go to a school reunion. Cassie catches up with her high-achieving old friends from the Manor Park School—among them two politicians, a rock star, and a famous actress. But then, shockingly, one of them, Garfield Rice, is found dead in the school bathroom, supposedly from a drug overdose. As Garfield was an eminent—and controversial—MP and the investigation is high profile, it’s headed by Cassie’s new boss, DI Harbinder Kaur, freshly promoted and newly arrived in London. The trouble is, Cassie can’t shake the feeling that one of them has killed again.

Is Cassie right, or was Garfield murdered by one of his political cronies? It’s in Cassie’s interest to skew the investigation so that it looks like it has nothing to do with Manor Park and she seems to be succeeding.

Until someone else from the reunion is found dead in Bleeding Heart Yard…

My Take

While this was written with the author's usual aplomb and skill, my main beef with the plot was the final resolution which felt plucked out of nowhere, and, looking back through the plot, I didn't feel there were many hints for the reader.

The book developed Harbinder Kaur's career and her social life. Apart from that it told us that when something traumatic happens, most of us will not remember the finer details, or may even interpret them incorrectly.

A good read. I recommend reading the two earlier books in the series first.

My rating: 4.6

I've also read

4 January 2023

Review: HER LAST WORDS, E.V. Kelly

  • this edition first published by Quercus UK 2022
  • ISBN 978-1-52941-717-3
  • 386 pages

Synopsis (publisher


It’s a crisp spring morning when Cass drops her husband, a respected lecturer, to the beach for his medically prescribed swim. While waiting for him, something catches her eye. A young woman runs towards her husband and embraces him – until he holds his hand over her face and she falls down on the stones, dead.

In the backseat of the car, their seven-year-old son sits quietly. When her husband returns, he says nothing. Neither does Cass. Afraid to speak up in the immediate aftermath, Cass embarks on a solitary quest to unravel what has taken place.

Cass is quickly drawn into a web of lies that pulls her back to the previous autumn, when a beautiful Italian postgraduate student finds herself subsumed by an inescapable desire. It’s visceral. It’s destiny. But sometimes destiny can kill…

Atmospheric, twisty, and propulsive, Her Last Words is an edge-of-your-seat read about obsession and dark secrets coming to light.

My Take

A young Irish wife watches her husband apparently murder a young woman on the beach in front of her. But when he gets in the car he makes no comment about it and she is not sure exactly what she has witnessed.

As the morning progresses the death is reported on the television news and Cass is still not sure what she should do.

The novel uses two time frames which seem to work independently of each other, one in fact considerably ahead of the other. The reader's job is to jigsaw them together which is at time s very challenging. I found the eventual result quite unexpected although there were early hints.

My rating: 4.7

About the author
E. V. Kelly holds a PhD in sociology from UCD. Her short stories have been broadcast on RTÉ and published in Crannóg, while her winning stories have appeared in The Irish Times, an anthology and online. She has been shortlisted for various awards including the Francis MacManus Short Story Award, the Hennessy Literary Awards and the SBP/Penguin Ireland Award. She was nominated for The Pushcart Prize 2021. Her Last Words is her first novel.

2 January 2023

Quick Summary for 2022

I met most of my goals for 2022

Here is the summary. Find the full page here

I read 127 books, nearly all crime fiction, nearly 50% from the library, over 50% e-books on Kindle and Libby, 50% British authors,  about 1/3 new-to-me authors.

My reading challenges for 2023 will probably be very similar.

Quick summary

  • 2022 Good Reads Reading Challenge. I have set my challenge at 110. Currently: 127
  • Agatha Christie Reading Challenge Completed in 2014, titles read in 2022: 10
  • USA Fiction Challenge So far 29/51, this year: 10
  • 2022 Aussie Author Reading Challenge: aiming for 20: currently 29
  • 2022 Australian Women Writers Challenge: aiming for 20. Currently 17
  • British Books Challenge 2022 currently 64
  • 2022 Ebook Reading Challenge currently 79
  • New to me authors - a personal challenge currently 41
  • Not crime fiction - a personal challenge currently 5
  • New Zealand reading challenge -again a personal challenge. currently 2
  • Translated crime fiction - a personal challenge that will overlap with many of the other reading challenges that I have undertaken. currently 8
  • Snagged through the Library currently: 59
  • 2022 Historical Reading Challenge. Currently: 14


  • This edition an e-book available on Kindle
  • #6 in the WISE Enquiries Agency series
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0BNZLPLH2
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Four Tails Publishing Ltd. (December 29, 2022)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 294 pages
  • Page numbers source ISBN ‏ : ‎ 199055007X

Synopsis (Amazon

A VALUABLE INHERITANCE, NO SIGN OF THE HEIRS...and a looming deadline. Can the women of the WISE ENQUIRIES AGENCY track down the missing men in time? Or are there good reasons for them not wanting to be found?

The sixth book in the series finds the women of the WISE Enquiries Agency looking forward to spending their first Christmas and New Year together as guests of the Duke and Duchess of Chellingworth. They’re expecting some memorable festivities – which might owe more to ancient Welsh traditions than mince pies and plum puddings if Dowager Althea has anything to do with it.

What they aren’t expecting are the worrying twists and turns they encounter while tackling the troubling case of missing triplets and a deepening mystery, and tragedy, associated with a trove of antiques…not to mention the bizarre and disturbing “gifts” being left on the front doorsteps of some very puzzled and perturbed locals.

A further complication arises when Duchess Stephanie’s parents arrive to support her through the imminent arrival of her first child; did the seemingly squeaky-clean businessman they got involved with on their recent holiday strike a deal with them that was too good to be true?

Join our softly poached professional investigators for Christmas and New Year in Wales…and find out!

My Take

The perfect start to a new year of reading, albeit cozy crime fiction.

The author has become even more adventurous with the number of sub-plots that she juggles at once. I enjoyed the development of characters of each of the WISE women and the relationships they are part of.

Seriously, if you are a reader of British cozies, and you haven't tried this series, then here is something for this year.

My rating: 4.5

I've also read


Blog Widget by LinkWithin