26 September 2023

Review: THE GIRLFRIEND, K. L. Slater

  • this edition made available by my local library
  • published by Bookouture 2022
  • ISBN 978-1-80314-792-59000
  • 310 PAGES

Synopsis (publisher)

My husband’s dead. She’s at my door. She owns my home…

The doorbell rings, just days after my beloved husband’s sudden death. I don’t recognise the woman on our doorstep, with her buttery blonde highlights, a diamond bracelet identical to my own and a bouncing baby boy in her arms.

As I show her inside, I notice her eyes grow wide as she takes in our spacious hallway, and the big squashy sofas that we all used to pile on. She glances at the silver-framed family photos and my little daughter hiding behind my skirts.

She looks at me, her blue eyes serious. ‘I’m sorry’ she says. ‘I know this will be hard to hear. But I am your husband’s girlfriend. And this is his son.’

My world implodes. And then she tells me that she owns our home – and that she’s not going anywhere…

An utterly gripping psychological thriller from the number one bestselling author of The Marriage. If you like Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train and Lisa Jewell then you will be hooked by The Girlfriend. 

My Take

When her husband Cole suddenly dies Jennifer finds that after 14 years of marriage, Cole's infidelities have very unexpected consequences.

As the blurb indicated, a twisting psychological thriller that has you guessing.  Mystery after mystery, and on top of all that Cole's death wasn't really an accident.

This is an author to watch out for.

My rating: 4.8

I've also read 4.6, THE MISTAKE

Review: THE HIDDEN BOOK, Kirsty Manning

  • This edition made available as an e-book on Libby by my local library
  • published: 29th August 2023
  • ISBN: 9781760879884
  • 312 pages
  • author website

Synopsis (author)

From the bestselling author of The Jade Lily comes a compelling novel based on a true story of a WWII European heirloom that brought down war criminals and travelled through history … to be found in an Australian country shed in 2019.

Europe, 1940s: Imprisoned in the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria, Spanish fighter and photographer Mateo Baca is ordered to process images of the camp and inmates for a handful of photo books being made for presentation to top Nazi figures. Just five books in total, or so the officials think …

Mateo manages to make a secret sixth book and, with the help of a local woman, Lena Lang, it remains hidden until the end of the war.

Australia, present day: When thirteen-year-old Hannah Campbell's Yugoslavian grandfather, Nico Antonov, arrives in Australia to visit his family, one of the gifts he brings with him is an intriguing-looking parcel wrapped in a flour sack, which Roza, Hannah's mother, quickly hides.

Later, Hannah sneaks off in search for the mysterious package. She is horrified to find in it a photo book full of ghastly historical photographs of a terrible place full of people suffering.

At first Hannah has little context for what she sees, but over the years, as she experiences love, grief and trauma, she understands what these photos came to mean, for herself, her freedom and for those who risked their lives to 'bear witness' to history. 

A startling story of clandestine courage and treachery in World War Two, and how we must meet and overcome our pasts to move into our futures.

My Take

Two main time frames. Mauthausen concentration camp 1940s to 1945. and Australia, New South Wales 1985 to 2017. Hannah's grandfather Nico pays his final visit to his daughter Rosa and brings with him a book which Hannah barely glimpses. It contains photos of prisoners of war in the concentration camp. Rosa hides it away but Nico promises that one day Hannah will be old enough  to look at it.

So the story tells how this book of photos came to be created at the same time as telling the story of Hannah's life over a period of 30 years. Initially Rosa  resists giving Hannah the book, but it becomes an obsession with Hannah.

In a sense it is not really crime fiction although crimes are committed. There is plenty of mystery though.

At times I became impatient with the narrative but there can be no doubt that the story is carefully and sensitively told.

In the Acknowledgements at the end the author says she wanted to talk about how the clandestine photos of Mauthausen were used to convict Nazi war criminals. She took some facts and used them to create a fictional scenario, with fictional characters describing how a secret photo album has come to be on display in the Sydney Jewish museum.

A very readable story.

My rating: 4.4

I've also read 4.7, THE JADE LILY

23 September 2023

Review: THE BLOOD TIDE, Neil Lancaster

  •  this edition made available as an e-book on Libby by my local library
  • #2 in the D.S. Craigie series
  •  Publication date ‏ : ‎ February 23, 2022

Synopsis (publisher)

You get away with murder.
In a remote sea loch on the west coast of Scotland, a fisherman vanishes without trace. His remains are never found.

You make people disappear.
A young man jumps from a bridge in Glasgow and falls to his death in the water below. DS Max Craigie uncovers evidence that links both victims. But if he can’t find out what cost them their lives, it won’t be long before more bodies turn up at the morgue…

You come back for revenge.
Soon cracks start to appear in the investigation, and Max’s past hurtles back to haunt him. When his loved ones are threatened, he faces a terrifying choice: let the only man he ever feared walk free, or watch his closest friend die… 

My Take

This truly is a sequel to #1 in the series. Issues unresolved earlier eventually come to a satisfying end as Max pursues his mission to deal with corruption in the Scottish police force. 

Very satisfying read.

My rating: 4.7

I have already read

4.7, DEAD MAN'S GRAVE, - DS Craigie #1

Review: THE MISTAKE, K.L. Slater

  •  this edition published 2019 by Sphere
  • ISBN 978-0-7515-7493-7
  • 360 pages

Synopsis (publisher)

 You think you know the truth about the people you love.

But one discovery can change everything…

Eight-year-old Billy goes missing one day, out flying his kite with his sister Rose. Two days later, he is found dead.

Sixteen years on, Rose still blames herself for Billy’s death. How could she have failed to protect her little brother?

Rose has never fully recovered from the trauma, and one of the few people she trusts is her neighbour Ronnie, who she has known all her life. But one day Ronnie falls ill, and Rose goes next door to help him… and what she finds in his attic room turns her world upside down.

Rose thought she knew the truth about what happened to Billy. She thought she knew her neighbour. Now the only thing she knows is that she is in danger… 

My Take

Rose has always blamed herself her little brother's death. She is convinced that if she hadn't brought Gareth into her family's lives then Billy would never have been have been under threat, he wouldn't have disappeared, and he wouldn't have died.

For 16 years Rose has blamed herself and dealt with the consequences of her actions. And now everything she believes is being challenged and she feels she must face Gareth to find out the truth.

And there is a twist at the end, cleverly done, unexpected, you mustn't miss it.

I will be reading more by this author.

My rating: 4.6

About the author

K.L. Slater is the number one bestselling author of fifteen psychological crime thrillers. She has sold over two million copies of her books worldwide. She has also written four Carnegie-nominated Young Adult novels as Kim Slater for Macmillan Children's Books. Kim has an MA in Creative Writing and lives with her husband in Nottingham, England.

Author website: www.KLSlaterAuthor.com
Twitter: @KimLSlater
Facebook: KL Slater Author

Review: THE CARNIVAL IS OVER, Greg Woodland

  • This edition published by Text Publishing Australia 2022
  • ISBN 9781922458698
  • 403 pages 
  • Shortlisted, Best Crime Fiction, Ned Kelly Awards, 2023
 Synopsis (publisher)

1971—Hal is seventeen, with dreams of escaping from Moorabool to a life in the city. But right now he’s on a good behaviour bond and stuck in a job he hates, paying off the car he ‘borrowed’ and crashed. Hal’s packing-room job makes him a target for workplace bullies and the friendship of the older, more worldly Christine is all that makes each day bearable. So when she doesn’t turn up for work, he’s on the alert.

So is Sergeant Mick Goodenough. But he already knows what’s happened to Christine: the same thing that happened to the newly elected deputy mayor. When another gruesome ‘accident’ occurs in Moorabool, Goodenough suspects there’s something sinister going on behind the scenes at the abattoir.

Mick and Hal are both determined to dig up the truth. Before long each of them is going to find himself in mortal danger and running for his life. 

My Take

As with the first novel in this series I was struck by the similarity in style and setting to Garry Disher novels. It highlights the problems of growing up in Australian rural towns, as well as the problems and limitations of rural economies in Australia in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The novel is set five years after the earlier one, and shares some of the same characters.

Characters are well drawn and the scenarios believable.

My Rating: 4.6

I've also read 4.6, THE NIGHT WHISTLER

14 September 2023

Review: THE HONEYMOON, Kate Gray

  • This edition published by Welbeck Fiction 2023
  • ISBN 978-1-80279-373-4
  • 406 pages

Two British couples on honeymoon meet in Bali and seem to hit it off at once. But on the night before they leave a man is killed and everything changes.

My Take

Once they get back to England neither couple seems to be able to forget the death in Bali. One couple was actively involved in the death, while the wife in the second couple is a journalist and she cannot help thinking that here is a story she can exploit.

Both couples have secrets that we have not been aware of before their arrival back home.
A very interestingly constructed book which results in a real page turner.

My rating: 4.7

10 September 2023

Review: DARK MODE, Ashley Kalagian Blunt

 Again another brief “review”.

This is a very dark story focussing on the dark web, which so few of us know anything about.

Reagan Carson, plant shop owner, has managed to keep most of her life offline, or so she thinks. Ten years ago she had a bad experience with a stalker who also just happened to be a policeman. So she has focussed on using the internet as little as possible and has avoided social media.

 But now out jogging in the early morning in Sydney she has stumbled across a murder victim who looks just like her. Similar murders occur and she becomes paranoid that they have been perpetrated by her former stalker. She avoids talking to the police but then starts to get nasty emails. She has a car accident and forms a friendship with a man who seems to be just what she needs.

A really harrowing story.

My rating: 4.7

Review: THE COACH BOMBER, G.R. Jordan

 Once again apologies for the brevity of this”review”. I am still reduced to writing posts on my iPad but hopefully will have a new computer in a day or so.

This is the 14th book in this series.

 When an airport bus is blown apart on the main road out of Inverness, DI Macleod finds a press backlash when they name their own suspect. With the undercurrent of an ongoing drug war upping the ante, Macleod must rely on his Sergeant Hope McGrath to infiltrate the organisations and help bring the real killer to the light.

Don’t miss your stop on the way to boomtown! ‘

I felt this book brought a grittier dimension to the story. A gangland boss is amongst the 30 or so dead after a bomb explodes on a coach near the airport at Inverness. At first the fear is that this is the start of a war between rival gangs, but Macleod dismisses this theory when the head of a rival gang protests that it has nothing to do with him.

Macleod’s new DS Urqhart who was added to the team in the 13th title because of her knowledge of antiques becomes a surprise package because of her ability to meet violence with violence.

When the series first started I thought it bordered on the cozies but now the titles are getting much closer to thrillers. In each too there is an element of surprise.

My rating: 4.5

5 September 2023

Review: CAT AMONG THE PIGEONS, Agatha Christie

This book was first published in 1959 and is basically set in a girls school in England although part of the plot stems from a middle Eastern country with a young progressive leader. An insurrection results in the young man sending an item to England but unfortunately he doesn’t make it back there himself.

I am reading the book for discussion with my U3A Agatha Christie reading group. We have a month to read the book, copies provided for everyone by our local library. We spend about an hour or so discussing what they, a group of 12, have thought of the book. We have been fortunate enough this year to have library also able to supply a video of a tv version of the story, so we watch that after our discussion.

Meadowbank is a very prestigious girls school suddenly struck by murders of 3 of its mistresses. The first half of the book gives us the main story and then it becomes a Poirot investigation.

I am looking forward to our discussion.

A good read.

My rating: 4.4

Review: DON’T BELIEVE IT, Charlie Donlea

 This is the second book that I’ve read by this author and I’m certainly on the alert for me.

Grace Sebold was convicted 10 years ago by a local jury of the murder of her boyfriend at Sugar Beach. 

Filmmaker Sidney Ryan makes the case the focal point of a 10 week true crime television series which goes over all known evidence and investigates things with new intensity. The television audience gets the impression that they are learning things almost as the investigator discovers them. 

The tv series is immensely popular, increasingly in the size of the audience with each episode. And just as you think Grace’s innocence has been proved, new accusations come to light.

Really a roller coaster ride.

My rating: 4.8

Review: FAIR MARKET VALUE, G. R. Jordan

 With my computer still out of order, I am reduced to writing very basic reviews, but I don’t want to get any more than I need to.

This the 13th in the Highlands and Islands and Detectives series which I am really enjoying. I encourage you to read the books in order so you get the full background and character development. Each book has a different setting in the Highlands and Islands and different issues are raised.

What we see in this one is a change in the team headed by Detective Inspector Seoras Macleod. DC Stewart has left and the team is missing her diligence and tough work. This time an auctioneer north of Inverness has been beaten to death with his gavel. Macleod is convinced the central clue must be related to an item that was sold during the auction the day before. He is also aware that that his team is in desperate need of an expert in ancient artifacts which is what was in the auction.  And so he adds a new woman to the team with that she might join permanently. Macleod is almost offended when he finds out what the item was.

My rating: 4.5


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