30 April 2024

Review: THE TORRENT, Dinuka McKenzie

  • This edition available from Amazon on Kindle
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09BP1G2R7
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ HarperCollins (1 February 2022)
  • (Detective Kate Miles Book 1)
  • ISBN: 9781804366301
  • winner of the 2020 HarperCollins Australia Banjo Prize

Synopsis (Amazon)

A loving husband lost to devastating summer floods. A teenage girl injured during a robbery. Two seemingly unconnected cases that will push a detective to the brink.

An atmospheric, compelling new voice in Australian crime fiction.

In Northern New South Wales, heavily pregnant and a week away from maternity leave, Detective Sergeant Kate Miles is exhausted and counting down the days. But a violent hold-up at a local fast-food restaurant with unsettling connections to her own past, means that her final days will be anything but straightforward.

When a second case is dumped on her lap, the closed case of a man drowned in recent summer floods, what begins as a simple informal review quickly grows into something more complicated. Kate can either write the report that’s expected of her or investigate the case the way she wants to.

As secrets and betrayals pile up, and the needs of her own family intervene, how far is Kate prepared to push to discover the truth?

My Take

Another Aussie author to look out for. This novel is her debut title, but there are already another couple (in the series) to look out for.

Detective Kate Miles is 36 weeks pregnant and should really already be on leave. This week though, she has 2 cases to take care of, and also her replacement to familiarise with the job.

There is a good Australian flavour to the novel, set in northern New South Wales. The cases and the stories surrounding them feel authentic at the same time as showing empathy to the people involved. There is also a good amount of back story to Kate's life. Characters are well drawn.

My rating: 4.6

About the author

Dinuka McKenzie is an Australian writer and the author of the Detective Kate Miles crime series published in Australia and the UK. She is the winner of the 2020 HarperCollins Australia Banjo Prize. 

Her writing has been shortlisted for the Sisters in Crime Davitt Awards, the Bad Sydney Crime Danger Awards, longlisted for the Richell Prize, and highly commended in the Australian Crime Writers' Association Louie Award. 

Her short fiction has appeared in the 2022 Dark Deeds Down Under crime and thriller anthology. Dinuka lives in Southern Sydney on Dharawal country.

28 April 2024


  • this edition a large print published by W F Howes 2021
  • first published 2018
  • ISBN 978-1-00404-114-5
  • 405 pages
  • Irish Village Mystery #3

Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

Kilbane has a new garda, and her first case is a grave matter indeed...
After solving two murders in the County Cork village of Kilbane, Siobhán O’Sullivan has accepted her calling and decided to join the Garda Síochána. The O’Sullivan clan couldn’t be prouder, but there’s no time to celebrate as she’s already on another case, summoned by the local priest who just found a dead man in the St. Mary’s graveyard—aboveground.

He’s a stranger, but the priest has heard talk of an American tourist in town, searching for his Irish ancestor. As Siobhán begins to dig for a motive among the gnarled roots of the victim’s family tree, she will need to stay two steps ahead of the killer or end up with more than one foot in the grave. 

My Take

An engaging cozy, focussing on Siobhán O’Sullivan's first case as a Garda.

The local priest wakes her after he hears a gunshot in his local churchyard. He follows that by finding the body of an American tourist.  This case is really above Siobhán's pay grade and a garda from Dublin is brought in to work with her.

Set in the small village of Kilbane, the case is an interesting mix of current police procedural and historical investigation. The American is the head of a successful food chain who has come to Ireland to search his past. He has brought with him his current (3rd) wife, his brother, a nurse, and his two adult children, and a documentary maker who will film their journey.

In addition Siobhán O’Sullivan has a restaurant to run and personal problems to resolve.

I have already begun another series by this author (see below)

My rating: 4.4

I've also read

4.5, NO STRANGERS HERE - #1 Kerry Mystery series

27 April 2024

Review: BROKEN BAY, Margaret Hickey

  • This edition read as an e-book on Libby provided through my local library
  • Published: 30 July 2024??
  • ISBN: 9781761344541
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Pages: 384

Synopsis (publisher)

Old loyalties and decades-long feuds rise to the surface in this stunning crime novel, set in a spectacular Australian landscape known for its jagged cliffs and hidden caves.

Detective Sergeant Mark Ariti has taken a few days’ holiday in Broken Bay at precisely the wrong time. The small fishing town on South Australia’s Limestone Coast is now the scene of a terrible tragedy.

Renowned cave diver Mya Rennik has drowned while exploring a sinkhole on the land of wealthy farmer Frank Doyle. As the press descends, Mark’s boss orders him to stay put and assist the police operation.

But when they retrieve Mya's body, a whole new mystery is opened up, around the disappearance of a young local woman twenty years before . . .

Suddenly Mark is diving deep into the town’s history - and in particular the simmering rivalry between its two most prominent families, the Doyles and Sinclairs.

Then a murder takes place at the Sinclairs’ old home – and Mark is left wondering which is more dangerous: Broken Bay’s hidden subterranean world or the secretive town above it . . . 

My Take

Very very readable.

I enjoyed catching up with Mark Ariti in the small Limestone Coast town of Broken Bay. Mark just happens to be holidaying in the area when renowned cave diver Mya Rennik drowns in a newly discovered sink hole.

Mark accidentally becomes head of the investigation, holding the fort until a crime investigation team arrives, when a second body is discovered in the sink hole.  And then his stay in the town is extended when his car's windscreen is shattered, and he has to stay waiting for repairs to take place. 

As Mark investigates the history of various families, he follows glimmerings that seem out of place, showing us what makes him such a good detective.

My rating: 4.5

I've also read

24 April 2024

Review: NO STRANGERS HERE, Carlene O'Connor

  • this edition borrowed from my local library in large print
  • #1 in County Kerry Mystery series
  • first printed in 2022
  • Large print edition W F Howes 2023
  • ISBN 978-1-00410-664-6 

Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

On a rocky beach in the southwest of Ireland, the body of a wealthy racehorse owner Johnny O’Reilly has been discovered. In a town like Dingle, everyone knows a little something about everyone else. But dig a bit deeper, and there’s always much more to find. And when Detective Inspector Cormac O'Brien is dispatched out of Killarney to lead the murder inquiry, he's determined to unearth every last buried secret.
Dimpna Wilde hasn’t been home in years. But faced with a triple bombshell—her mother is rumored to have been in a relationship with Johnny, her father’s dementia is escalating, and her brother is avoiding her calls—Dimpna moves back to Dingle to clear her family of suspicion. And as she takes over the family practice, she finds herself in a race with the detective inspector to uncover the dark, twisting truth behind murder, no matter how close to home it strikes...

My Take

This a cracking good yarn. Plenty of mystery. Plenty of secrets.

Dimpna Wilde left Dingle 27 years ago. After she was raped and after the racehorse in her care was killed in a traffic accident.

She has established a career as a renowned vet  despite her diminutive size. But her husband committed suicide a year ago and really she has nowhere to go but Dingle where she has family.

She arrives in time to hear of the murder Johnny O'Reilly, wealthy race horse owner, and to witness the arrival of Cormac O'Brien, Detective. Cormac will be challenged as he tries to crack the secrets of the town.

There is a lot for the reader to get up to speed on, and Dimpna becomes our eyes and ears, as we delve into the past and the present.

I'm impressed enough by this book to be looking for the next in the series SOME OF US ARE LOOKING.

My rating: 4.5

About the author
Carlene O'Connor comes from a long line of Irish storytellers. Her great-grandmother emigrated from Ireland to America during the Troubles, and the stories have been flowing ever since. Of all the places across the pond she's wandered, she fell most in love with a walled town in County Limerick and was inspired to create the town of Kilbane, County Cork. Carlene currently divides her time between New York and the Emerald Isle. 

21 April 2024

Review: THE YOUNGER WIFE, Sally Hepworth

  • This edition a large print one from my local library
  • published in 2022 by Wheeler Publishing
  • ISBN 978-1-4326-9708-6
  • 477 pages
  • author website  

Synopsis (author website)

Stephen Aston is getting married again. The only problem is, he's still married to his first wife, even though she is in a care facility for dementia. But he'll take care of that easily, by divorcing her--even if his adult daughters protest.

Tully and Rachel Aston look upon Heather as nothing but an interloper. Heather is the same age as Rachel and even younger than Tully. Clearly she's a golddigger and after their father's money. Heather has secrets that she's keeping close, and reasons of her own for wanting to marry Stephen.

With their mother unable to speak for herself, Tully and Rachel are determined to get to the truth about their family's secrets, the new wife closing in, and who their father really is. But will getting to the truth unleash the most dangerous impulses...in all of them? 

My Take

This is the second time I've read this novel within 12 months. My first review is here. I'm relieved to find that I've given it the same rating.

So why am I reading it again? For discussion with my U3A crime fiction discussion group.

So this time I want to put down some of the things about the book that I want to discuss with them. So Spoiler Alert. Particularly if you have not yet read the book.

  • Should Stephen Aston be divorcing Pam (his wife with dementia) and marrying again?
  • Were you shocked at the age difference between Heather and Stephen?
  • Do you think Heather should have agreed to marry Stephen and then allow him to discard Pam?
  • How have Tully and Rachel reacted to stress in their lives?
  • Where did the money in the hot water bottle come from?
  • Who was Fiona Arthur? 
  • Was Stephen abusive? What evidence is there?
  • Was Stephen's death justified?
  • What issues did the book make you consider?
  • What did you think of the structure of the book: the narration by a person at the wedding; the fact that we know something dreadful has happened but not exactly what; the continued intervention by this narrator; her final toast to Stephen.

My rating: 4.7

I've also read


20 April 2024

Review: WHAT HAPPENED TO NINA? Dervla McTiernan

  • This edition available on Kindle from Amazon
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ HarperCollins (1 March 2024)
  • 336 pages

Synopsis (Amazon

Nina and Simon are the perfect couple. Young, fun and deeply in love. Until they leave for a weekend at his family's cabin in Vermont, and only Simon comes home.


Nobody knows. Simon's explanation about what happened in their last hours together doesn't add up. Nina's parents push the police for answers, and Simon's parents rush to protect him. They hire expensive lawyers and a PR firm that quickly ramps up a vicious, nothing-is-off-limits media campaign.


Soon, facts are lost in a swirl of accusation and counter-accusation. Everyone chooses a side, and the story goes viral, fueled by armchair investigators and wild conspiracy theories and illustrated with pretty pictures taken from Nina's social media accounts. Journalists descend on their small Vermont town, followed by a few obsessive "fans."


Nina's family is under siege, but they never lose sight of the only thing that really matters -- finding their daughter. Out-gunned by Simon's wealthy, powerful family, Nina's parents recognize that if playing by the rules won't get them anywhere, it's time to break them.

My Take:

Nina and Simon, a young couple attending separate universities in Vermont, go away together for a week's holiday, but at the end of a week Simon returns alone. He says he left Nina alone at the holiday cabin, but concerns are raised when Nina does not contact her parents. Simon says they broke up on their last night together, but gives differing versions of why it happened.

As Nina's parents become concerned the police become involved and the rumour mill begins.

This plot has lots of twists, and the compelling story is told through a number of voices.

Inside stories for both families are revealed for the reader.

Dervla McTiernan, Australian/Irish, is certainly one to watch

My Rating: 4.8

I've also read

Review: THE BLOOD CARD, Elly Griffiths

  • This edition from my local library
  • Published by First Mariner Books 201
  • ISBN 978-1-328-51192-8
  • 372 pages
  • #3 in the Brighton Mysteries
  • author website

Synopsis (author website)

Elizabeth II’s coronation is looming, but the murder of their wartime commander, Colonel Cartwright, spoils the happy mood for DI Edgar Stephens and magician Max Mephisto. A playbill featuring another deceased comrade is found in Colonel Cartwright’s possession, and a playing card, the ace of hearts: the blood card. The wartime connection and the suggestion of magic are enough for him to put Stephens and Mephisto on the case.

Edgar’s investigation into the death of Brighton fortune-teller Madame Zabini is put on hold. Max is busy rehearsing for a spectacular Coronation Day variety show – and his television debut – so it’s Edgar who is sent to New York, a land of plenty worlds away from still-rationed England. He’s on the trail of a small-town mesmerist who may provide the key, but someone else silences him first. It’s Sergeant Emma Holmes who finds the clue, buried in the files of the Zabini case, that leads them to an anarchist group intent on providing an explosive finale to Coronation Day.

Now it’s up to Edgar, Max and Emma to foil the plot, and find out who it is who’s been dealing the cards.

My Take

I read this novel partly to catch up with books that I have missed in this series, mainly when I jumped from #2 to #4. I have discovered I already have #7 to catch up with.

I really enjoyed the historical setting of  the imminent coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. This coincides with the advent of television which those who attend Variety Theatre are fearful with mean the demise of live theatre.

The novel also filled in for me details that I had missed in the personal lives of Edgar, Max, and Emma.

An enjoyable and well written read.

My Rating: 4.5

I've also read


17 April 2024

Review: THE HEIGHTS, Louise Candlish

  • this edition from my local library
  • published by Simon & Schuster 2021
  • 432 pages
  • ISBN 978-1-4711-8349-2

Synopsis (publisher)

There is nothing as powerful as a mother’s love. But will Ellen’s put her whole family in danger?

Ellen Saint is just your average mum. Devoted to her family, she’s no different from any other mother who wants the best for her kids. But when her teenage son Lucas brings a new friend home, cracks start to appear in Ellen’s perfect family life.
Kieran Watts isn’t like Lucas. He’s rude, obnoxious and reckless, and Ellen can only watch in despair as her son falls deeper under his influence.
Then Ellen’s whole world implodes and she embarks on an obsessive need to get revenge.

There is nothing you won’t do for your children – even murder . . . 

My Take

From the back cover:

The Heights is a tall, slender apartment building among warehouses in London. Its roof terrace is so discreet, you wouldn’t know it existed if you weren’t standing at the window of the flat directly opposite. But you are. And that’s when you see a man up there—a man you’d recognize anywhere. He may be older now, but it’s definitely him.

But that can’t be because he’s been dead for over two years. You know this for a fact.

Because you’re the one who killed him.

I must confess that it wasn't the publisher's blurb that got me into this one, but the stuff from the back cover.

This intriguingly structured novel requires the reader to exercise those "little grey cells" to solve all the mysteries - and there is more than one. There are several voices in this novel, so do take notice of anything that helps you distinguish one from another. 

We hear most of the story from "the horse's mouth", beginning in September 2012, when a 16 year old disadvantaged boy, Kieran Watts, joins Lucas Gordon's class at Foxwell Academy, and attaches himself to Lucas like an evil limpet. From that point, in Ellen's own words, it is just one disastrous mistake after another.

And from my point of view, Ellen Saint is far from your "average mum".

My rating: 4.6

I've also read

15 April 2024

Review: IN DARK WATER, Lynne McEwan

  • This edition available on Kindle from Amazon
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B08ZD85G57
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Canelo Crime (June 24, 2021)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 330 pages
  • #1 in DI Shona Oliver Crime Thriller series

Synopsis (Amazon)

Beneath the surface lie deadly secrets...

DI Shona Oliver agreed to move to Dumfries with her ex-banker husband when their teenage daughter got in with a bad crowd in London. As a Glasgow native, she’s back on home turf.

Living on the shores of the Solway Firth allows Shona to continue as an RNLI volunteer, and a call out to recover a woman’s body indicates foul play. Police in Cumbria take the case but links back to Scotland keep Shona’s team involved. As they investigate, reports of people trafficking and a spate of thefts from local shops compete for attention with a large scale drug bust. But Shona’s work may all be in vain when those close to her threaten to tear the case apart – and ruin Shona in the process.

An unforgettable debut novel by a Scottish crime writer to watch, for fans of Val McDermid, Marion Todd and Lin Anderson.

My Take

 In DI Shona Oliver we have a very likeable Scottish detective, with all the qualities we require from a true leader. 'Wee Shona' shows herself resourceful, at the same time as persistent and empathetic.

There are lots of twists and turns in the plot, and quite a number of strong characters. A credible read.

I look forward to the second in the series DEAD MAN DEEP.

My rating: 4.7

About the author

Glasgow-born Lynne McEwan is a former newspaper photographer turned crime author. She’s covered stories including the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the first Gulf War in addition to many high profile murder cases. Her DI Shona Oliver series is set on the beautiful Solway Firth which forms the border between Scotland and England, and where Shona is also a lifeboat volunteer. Lynne is a graduate of the University of East Anglia's Creative Writing programme and splits her time between Lincolnshire and Scotland.

13 April 2024

Review: THE DINNER PARTY, Rebecca Heath

  • This edition made available as an e-book on Libby by my local library
  • Published 03 Jan 2024 by Bloomsbury Publishing
  • Extent     416 pages
  • ISBN     9781804546109

Synopsis (Publisher

The new exciting thriller by Rebecca Heath, author of THE SUMMER PARTY. A dark and twisty domestic thriller set in a seemingly idyllic suburban neighbourhood, where family secrets are best kept buried...

Summer 1979. In the idyllic suburban neighbourhood of Ridgefield, Australia, during a scorching heat wave, four couples gather for their weekly dinner party.

When Frank Callaghan checks on the sleeping children, he finds an empty crib where his four-month-old daughter Megan should be sleeping. The party-goers swear they didn't see anything but each of them has something to hide.

Forty years later, a stranger knocks at the Callaghan's door. She claims to be their missing daughter. And she's holding the blanket she was wrapped in the night she disappeared.

Shocked, the Callaghans must finally confront how well they know their neighbours, and ask themselves:
Where has Megan really been all this time?

My Take

There is so much to like about this novel, not just that it is by a South Australian author, or that it is right in the time frame of my own life.

The action begins in 1979 with the disappearance of a 4 month old baby while her parents are at a dinner party in a neighbouring house. 40 years later 'The Callaghan Baby Podcast' is investigating what is now a forty-year-old cold case, bringing together investigative evidence from when the disappearance happened, police reports, a coronial investigation, interviews with suspects, family and neighbours both then and now.  The author combines that with other voices, particularly that of Billie, the adult daughter of baby Megan's sister.

This made the structure of the novel very complex, and quite challenging for the reader, but a staggering achievement. So much of the book rang true for me.

The family is marking the anniversary of Megan's disappearance with a family gathering when there is a knock at the door: a stranger is standing on the doorstep.  

Little by little, elements of the mystery are revealed and the reader is asked to assess evidence.

Highly recommended.

My Rating: 5.0

About the Author
Rebecca Heath studied science at university, worked in hospitality and teaching, but she always carved out time to write. She lives in Adelaide, Australia, halfway between the city and the sea with her husband, three children and a much-loved border collie. She spent her childhood summers at a remote beach. Her first novel is THE SUMMER PARTY

11 April 2024

Review: THE GLASS HOUSE, Eve Chase

  • This edition on Kindle (Amazon)
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B07VRY3DBN
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Penguin (May 14, 2020)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 393 pages 

Synopsis  (Amazon)

The truth can shatter everything . . .

When the Harrington family discovers an abandoned baby deep in the shady woods, they decide to keep her a secret and raise her as their own.

But within days a body is found in the grounds of their house and their perfect new family implodes.

Years later, Sylvie, seeking answers to nagging questions about her life, is drawn into the wild beautiful woods where nothing is quite what it seems.

Will she unearth the truth?

And dare she reveal it?

'The Glass House is not really about a murder, or a creepy house, but about families - the ones we're born into, the ones we make and especially the ones we flee' New York Times 

My Take

This novel has a fascinating structure with parts of the story in the past and parts in the present. Sylvie has known for most of her life that both she and her sister have been adopted, but now her mother has had an accident and is in a coma, and her daughter is pregnant, and there are things that Sylvie just doesn't know.

I think the reader knows more than Sylvie does, but even so there are t's to crossed and i's to be dotted, and so this book is really a many stranded mystery. As the book progresses things begin to fall into place, with some real surprises. Nevertheless I thought there was a bit of a struggle to tie everything off at the end.

My rating: 4.3

I've also read

Review: ABSOLUTION, Caro Ramsay

  • This edition an e-book on Kindle at Amazon
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B091H15B8W
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Joffe Books crime thriller, mystery and suspense (April 14, 2021)
    First published 2008
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 390 pages
  • #1 in Anderson and Costello series

Synopsis (Amazon)

Meet your next favourite Scottish detectives: DI Colin Anderson and DS Winifred ‘Freddie’ Costello.

A serial killer is stalking Glasgow.

A woman is found dead in her own home. No sign of forced entry. But she is posed as though on the cross. Ripped open and bled to death. With a blistering of chloroform round her mouth and nose.

She’s not the first victim found like this.

Detectives Anderson and Costello are on the case. But their boss, DCI Alan McAlpine, is unravelling before their eyes.

The past holds horrific memories for McAlpine. He last worked this beat some twenty years earlier, when he was assigned to guard a woman, faceless after a sadistic acid attack. He couldn’t protect her.

The past is resurfacing.
Three women are dead.

Can they stop a serial killer who’s terrifying the gritty streets of Glasgow?

A Scottish police procedural that will keep your pulse racing from electrifying opening to heart-stopping finish.  

My Take

This is actually not a new series, the first originally published in 2007, just recently published as an e-book, I think. I will certainly be checking up for more.

A serial killer is acting as a vigilante, targetting women who have betrayed others. So far three have been brutally killed, and there is no sign  that "he" is stopping.

It is a complex plot, with clues that seem to lead nowhere. In many ways this is a very solid police procedural. The ending will leave you wondering where the series is heading.

Book 7: RAT RUN

My rating: 4.5

About the author

Caro was born in Govan, on Glasgow's south side. A graduate of the British School of Osteopathy, she runs a large osteopath centre in West Scotland, treating animals and humans, and writes in her spare time.

Her first novel Absolution was shortlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger 2008 and her second Singing to the Dead was longlisted for the Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award 2010. The third in the series, Dark Water, was published on 4 August 2010, and the fourth book The Blood Of Crows was published on 30 August 2012. Critic Cathi Unsworth in The Guardian opined that Ramsay's series "excels in sense of place, realism, plotting and caustic humour", describing it as "Bleak, black and brilliant".

Ramsay was the subject of a 2007 BBC documentary film, and appeared on STV show The Hour in 2010.

6 April 2024

Review: THE BIRDCAGE, Eve Chase

  • This edition read as an e-book on my Kindle through Amazon
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B08T6L6D24
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Penguin (April 28, 2022
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 370 pages

Synopsis (Amazon)

When half-sisters Lauren, Flora, and Kat are unexpectedly summoned to the Cornish house where they spent their childhood summers, it's the first time they've dared return.

Because the wild cliffs and windswept beaches hide a twenty-year-old secret.

The truth about what they did.

Someone who remembers them lurks in the shadows, watching their every move.

And there are other secrets, even darker than their own, waiting to be unearthed . . .

My Take

This was a fascinating read, absolutely enthralling. Three half sisters are summoned by their father to the house in Cornwall where they used to meet every summer. He has things he wants to tell them.

They have recently met at the funeral of one of their mothers, but relationships are not easy.

Readers become aware that something occurred twenty years before that affected the family dramatically and we spend most of the book piecing that together. The author does a very good job of preventing us from learning the full truth too quickly, at the same time as giving us a picture of how things are now.  A mystery in the true sense of the word.

Highly recommended.

My rating: 4.8

I've also read 4.8, THE WILDLING SISTERS

About the author
Eve Chase is an internationally bestselling British novelist who writes rich, layered and suspenseful novels, thick with secrets, unforgettable characters and settings. Her latest novel, The Midnight Hour - 'Her best yet...I loved every word' - Claire Douglas - publishes June '24, in the UK. Other novels include, The Birdcage, The Glass House (The Daughters of Foxcote Manor, US) a Sunday Times top ten bestseller and Richard and Judy Book Club pick, The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde (The Wildling Sisters, US) which was longlisted for the HWA Gold Crown Award, and Black Rabbit Hall, winner of Paris' Saint-Maur en Poche prize for Best Foreign Fiction. She works in the Writer's Shed at the bottom of her garden, usually with Harry, her golden retriever.  

2 April 2024

Review: THE MATCH, Harlan Coben

  • This edition made available as an e-book by my local library on Libby
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Grand Central Publishing (February 7, 2023) 
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 352 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1538748290
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1538748299


After months away, Wilde has returned to the Ramapo Mountains in the wake of a failed bid at domesticity that confirms what he's known all along: He belongs on his own, free from the comforts and constraints of modern life.

Suddenly, a DNA match on an online ancestry database brings Wilde closer to his past than he's ever dreamed, and finally gives Wilde the opening he needs to track down his father. But meeting the man brings up more questions than answers. So Wilde reaches out to his last, most desperate lead, a second cousin who disappears as quickly as he resurfaces, having experienced an epic fall from grace that can only be described as a waking nightmare.

Was his cousin's downfall a long time coming? Or was he the victim of a conspiracy as cunning as it is complex? And how does it all connect to the man once known as The Stranger, a treacherous fugitive with a growing following whose mission and methods have only turned more dangerous with time?


My Take

No wonder I had problems understanding this book! I have just discovered that this is the second book in a series. I kept thinking that I had missed something. There were so many times where I went back and read a passage again and was forced into making guesses.

The book raised a number of interesting issues: reality TV programs that "play" with the emotions of participants/contestants; the use of DNA to trace relatives etc. That bit I appreciated. But there were really too many holes in my understanding for me to really enjoy reading the book.

My Rating: 3.0

I've also read

1 April 2024

Review: POIROT INVESTIGATES, Agatha Christie

  • this edition from my local library published by Vintage Books Jan 2023
  • first published 1924
  • ISBN 978-0-593-31188-3
  • 237 pages


Poirot Investigates is a short story collection written by English author Agatha Christie and first published in the UK by The Bodley Head in March 1924.[1] In the eleven stories, famed eccentric detective Hercule Poirot solves a variety of mysteries involving greed, jealousy, and revenge. The American version of this book, published by Dodd, Mead and Company in 1925,[2] featured a further three stories. 

The American edition of the book, published one year later, featured an additional three stories which did not appear in book form in the UK until 1974 with the publication of Poirot's Early Cases.

    The Chocolate Box
    The Veiled Lady
    The Lost Mine

The original 11 stories

  1. The Adventure of the Western Star
  2. The Tragedy of Marsdon Manor
  3. The Adventure of the Cheap Flat
  4. The Mystery of Hunter's Lodge
  5. The Million Dollar Bond Robbery
  6. The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb
  7. The Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan
  8. The Kidnapped Prime Minister
  9. The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim
  10. The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman
  11. The Case of the Missing Will

My Take

You will find that I have read all these short stories previously. See also here.  

I am re-reading them to discuss with my U3A Agatha Christie group. So here rather than look comprehensively at each story, I will just make a few notes, and perhaps some questions that I want to ask the group in our discussion. Please excuse me if I inadvertently release a few spoliers.

At the beginning of the collection there is a warning that the plots of these original stories may differ from the television versions of them. 

There is also a warning that the book as published in 1925 contained some offensive cultural representations and language that may detract - and distract- from the value of the work. A certain amount of sanitisation has taken place.  Do the group think that sanitisation is justified?

I am interested in how Poirot was depicted. Generally he is nimbler than in later books and also poses at times as a handyman, such as a plumber.

These stories all pre-date the appearance of Miss Lemon. Poirot and Hastings have a landlady.

The stories are all narrated by Hastings, basically set after  World War One, and he sets the tone in the first story (The Adventure of the Western Star) with his complaint that Poirot has made an absolute laughing stock of him. His complaint is basically that Poirot never confides what he is thinking and just lets Hastings blunder along.  Poirot says Hastings is "always in a mental fog". Of course this allows Poirot to demonstrate how superior his "little grey cells" are.

The stories demonstrate the breadth of the consultations are that Poirot undertakes. In the second, The Tragedy of Marsdon Manor, Poirot is asked to investigate a possible insurance fraud.

I found the plot of the third one, The Adventure of the Cheap Flat, rather convoluted and didn't think Christie pulled it off particularly well. It does demonstrate the breadth of Poirot's international connections, and also introduces Inspector Japp of Scotland Yard who will appear regularly in Poirot stories and novels.

In the Mystery of Hunter's Lodge Poirot is in bed with influenza and he allows Hastings to go instead of him. At Lodge he meets up with Japp who refers unkindly to "the cart without the horse". In this case Poirot solves the case from his sick bed, but Hastings and Japp combined, who are on the spot, are unable to secure the culprits. Hastings observes though that justice is finally done.

The Million Dollar Bond Robbery makes us aware of Poirot's chronic mal der mer as well as his ability to think outside the box. 

In The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb Christie gives us a time frame determined by the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamen in 1922. In 1923 and 1924 there were stories of a curse having been activated by the desecration of the tomb, so this story would have had a very contemporary feel for the readers.

In The Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan, Hastings announces his plan to take Poirot away to Brighton for the weekend.  Hastings reminds us that Poirot is inclined to underestimate Hastings' mental capacities. A pearl necklace is stolen but Poirot solves the case while hasting misses all the clues.

The Kidnapped Prime Minister is set a little earlier than some of the stories, probably in 1919 during the peace conferences and Hastings reveals the role that Poirot played in averting an international crisis. In this story we have a description of Japp as "ferret-faced" which is quite at odds with the way he has been portrayed in TV series. 

In the Disappearance of Mr Davenheim Poirot assures us that he approaches the business of detection as an exact science, a mathematical precision.  He regards himself as a "consulting specialist", able to solve mysteries without moving from his chair, providing he is given the right information. But he asks such peculiar questions that Japp privately considers his abilities have deserted him. Japp emphasises his age and war experiences are catching up with him. But in the end Japp loses a five pound wager to Poirot.

The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman looks like an Italian vendetta but Poirot is not convinced. He realises that they are reliant on the evidence of one man, and what if that is not true?

The Case of the Missing Will  features Poirot and Hastings and a New Woman who impresses Poirot but not Hastings. Poirot solves her problem but Hastings feels they have not "played fair".

So that brings us to the end of the original 11 stories. They have all been designed to show us what a clever mind Poirot has, and how much superior to both Japp and Hastings. The remaining 3 stories seem a little shorter than the earlier ones.

In The Veiled Lady Poirot is bored - he imagines that he is making such a name for himself in London that criminals are not presenting any interesting cases. In this case Poirot and Hasting break into a  house in the dead of night in search of a Chinese Box containing some compromising letters. 

In The Lost Mine Poirot recounts an old adventure of his to explain to Hastings why he does not invest in shares. And in The Chocolate Box he tells Hastings of one of his rare failures, a case where he let natural justice take its course.

So in general, these stories range in quality. Each of them has a puzzle for the reader to solve. However, there are times when the author does not give the reader everything they need to solve the puzzle. At times Poirot is privy to information that we do not have. However the stories in general move quickly and the problem is resolved.

My rating: 4.3

Review: POISON AT THE VILLAGE SHOW, Catherine Coles

  • This edition available on Amazon for Kindle
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09NR1NJMT
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Boldwood Books (March 17, 2022)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 226 pages
  • Page numbers source ISBN ‏ : ‎ 1804150630
  • Martha Miller Mysteries #1

Synopsis (Amazon)

Westleham Village 1947.

It’s the Westleham village show and with the war finally over, everyone is looking forward to a pleasant day.

But newcomer, Martha Miller doesn’t share the excitement. Because since her husband Stan left for work one day and never returned, Martha has been treated as somewhat of an outsider in Westleham. The village gossip is that Martha must be to blame….

Martha hopes she can win her fellow villagers over with her delicious homemade plum gin. But as glasses of the tangy tipple are quaffed, disaster strikes! Chairwoman of the village show, Alice Warren, slumps to the ground - poisoned!

As fingers of suspicion again point Martha’s way, she’s determined to prove
her innocence and find the real culprit. And she’s ably helped by the new vicar, Luke Walker.

But who would kill Alice and why? And will Luke and Martha discover who is behind the poisoning before it's too late?

My Take

A very readable cozy, with likeable central characters, a plausible plot, and a couple of elements of romance. Set in an English village after World War II, with rationing still in place. This was a quick read and the first in a series of 4. Perhaps the ending was a bit weak.

My rating: 4.2

About the author
Born in Germany to a military father, Catherine’s early years were an adventure in themselves. For the first 14 years of her life, she called various countries abroad her home. It was during this time that she developed her insatiable appetite for stories, courtesy of her school library.

With each turn of the page, Catherine became captivated by two genres: romance and mysteries. The daring escapades of Nancy Drew left a mark on her, igniting a love for mystery stories. Soon, she discovered the genius of Agatha Christie, whose books remain her favourites to this day.

Catherine’s bestselling Tommy & Evelyn Christie Mysteries transport readers to the North Yorkshire countryside of the 1920s while the Martha Miller Mysteries unfold in the charming countryside of post-World War 2 Berkshire. Catherine’s new series, the West Cliffe Bay Cosy Mysteries are contemporary mysteries set in a fictional North Yorkshire village.

Catherine shares her home with her youngest child and two delightfully spoiled dogs who have no idea they are not human.


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