20 November 2017

Review: A NECESSARY EVIL, Abir Mukherjee

  • format: kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 2122 KB
  • Print Length: 380 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1911215132
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital (June 1, 2017)
  • Publication Date: June 1, 2017
  • Sold by: PRH UK
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01K6RP0MO
Synopsis (Amazon)

India, 1920. Captain Wyndham and Sergeant Banerjee of the Calcutta Police Force investigate the dramatic assassination of a Maharajah's son.

The fabulously wealthy kingdom of Sambalpore is home to tigers, elephants, diamond mines and the beautiful Palace of the Sun. But when the heir to the throne is assassinated in the presence of Captain Sam Wyndham and Sergeant 'Surrender-Not' Banerjee, they discover a kingdom riven with suppressed conflict. Prince Adhir was a moderniser whose attitudes - and romantic relationship - may have upset the more religious elements of his country, while his brother – now in line to the throne – appears to be a feckless playboy.

As Wyndham and Banerjee desperately try to unravel the mystery behind the assassination, they become entangled in a dangerous world where those in power live by their own rules and those who cross their paths pay with their lives. They must find a murderer, before the murderer finds them…

My Take

Not much time has elapsed since the first book of this series. In the background is the unrest generated by the Indian independence movement. To assuage the growing clamour for Home Rule, the British government in India has come up with the idea of an Indian House of Lords called the Chamber of Princes. All the native princes are being invited to join, and it is important that the wealthiest did so. The Maharajah of Sambalpore, even though the state is amongst the smallest, is billed as among the wealthiest princes. His eldest son Crown Prince Adhir went to school with Sergeant Banerjee and has requested a meeting with him in Calcutta. Adhir is against joining the Chamber of Princes. He has also received some threatening letters, which ironically he can't read as they are in local script. On their way back to their hotel the prince is assassinated.

Having set the scene in Calcutta in 1920, the novel really makes very little use of the political turmoil of the time. Instead Wyndham and Banerjee become embroiled in local politics in Sambalpore, chasing down the person behind the prince's assassination.

The novel provides an interesting depiction of the contrast between the old way of life and the new. The Maharajah and his court behave as if there is no threat to their way of life or their social status. In some ways the novel is a police procedural but Wyndham and Banerjee tread a fine line between what the British Raj wants to do, and what it can achieve without upseting local protocols.

My rating: 4.5

I've also read 4.4, A RISING MAN

16 November 2017

Review: MURDER IN LITTLE SHENDON, A. H. Richardson

  • this edition published in 2015 by Serano Press USA
  • ISBN 978-1515283973
  • 248 pages
  • source: copy provided the publisher
Synopsis (provided by publisher)

The Hazlitt/Brandon series of murder mystery novels follows a pair of clever, colorful and charismatic sleuths - Sir Victor Hazlitt and Beresford Brandon – as they scratch their heads searching for clues to figure out whodunit.

The first book in the series, Murder in Little Shendon, is a thriller murder mystery which takes place in a quaint little village in England after World War Two.

Picture, if you will, a picturesque village called Little Shendon, suddenly caught up in dealing with a murder of one of its citizens — not a particularly well-liked one at that. Which makes it all the more intriguing because the list of suspects becomes very long. This tantalizing tale unfolds with twists and turns to find out whodunit to Mr. Bartholomew Fynche, the murdered shopkeeper.

Fear grips the community as the investigation slowly progresses. Everyone is interviewed; everyone is suspect! From his housekeeper to Lady Armstrong and her household staff. Or could it be the shy librarian new in town? Or the defiant retired army major and his ladyfriend, the post mistress? Or perhaps the weird sisters who live on the edge of town? Then there is the couple who own the local inn and pub, along with the two Americans who are staying there? Even the vicar and his wife fall under the gloom of suspicion.

Uncertainty, wariness, and terror reign as neighbors watch neighbors to discover the evil that permeates their upturned lives. No one feels safe in this charming little village. Who is the murderer? And why was this strange uncivil man dispatched in such a seemingly civil community?

A murder mystery that will keep you reading until you learn the details, uncovered by Police Inspector Stanley Burgess and his two amateur detectives, Sir Victor Hazlitt and Beresford Brandon. The three sift methodically through the Alibis and life stories of the suspects until they uncover…

You are challenged to discover the culprit before the last few pages. And no fair looking ahead — it’s the journey that proves the most enticing.

My Take

Murdered antiquarian/shopkeeper Bartholomew Fynche had many enemies and almost no friends. He had dealt many a local resident a nasty blow in the past and many of them were in his shop the morning before his death, there to remind him of what he owed them. By the time they came back in the afternoon someone had beaten them to it. He was dead.

Although this novel follows an almost classic formula - make a list of possible suspects and then eliminate them one by one - this novel is unusual in that it has three detectives, two of them amateurs, working together and independently, and then at the end, when they are sure of their ground, a Poirot-style denouement.

At the beginning there are almost no clues to the identity of the murderer, but then the murderer slips up when he murders a second person who had seen something that she couldn't explain.

In the end I too thought I knew who the murderer was, although there were several good red herrings.

This is the first in the Hazlitt/Brandon series: there are already two more: ACT ONE, SCENE ONE - MURDER, and MURDER AT SERENITY FARM

All 3 books are available for Kindle.

My rating: 4.3

About the author

A.H. Richardson was born in London England and is the daughter of famous pianist and composer Clive Richardson. She studied drama and acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. She was an actress, a musician, a painter and sculptor, and now an Author.

In addition to the Hazlitt Brandon series, she is also the author of a series of children’s chapter books, the Jorie series, which includes Jorie and the Magic Stones, Jorie and the Gold Key, and Jorie and the River of Fire.

A.H. Richardson lives happily in East Tennessee, her adopted state, and has three sons, three grandchildren, and two pugs. She speaks four languages and loves to do voiceovers. She plans on writing many more books and hopes to delight her readers further with her British twist, which all her books have.



Readers can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

To learn more, go to https://ahrichardson.com/
 

12 November 2017

Review: MURDER IN THE AFTERNOON EXTRA, Peter Bartram

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 390 KB
  • Print Length: 160 pages
  • Publisher: The Bartram Partnership (July 3, 2017)
  • Publication Date: July 3, 2017
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B073PYXKJN
  • #2 of The Morning, Noon and Night Trilogy
Synopsis (Amazon)

Welcome to Brighton, England - where they do like to murder beside the seaside…

Don't you just hate it when you go on a foreign trip - and then someone tries to kill you?

Ace crime reporter Colin Crampton thinks he's wrapped up a story that began with a robbery and ended with a murder. He's filed his copy. Job done.

But that was before he hit on a new clue - which takes him on a foreign trip and into more danger than he's ever known.

Before long, Colin discovers his hunt for the truth has dumped him right into the middle of a conspiracy he could never have foreseen.

As he battles to find a way out of danger, he meets a stripper with a pet python, a clumsy assassin who kills the wrong people, and a slot machine salesman with less luck than his punters.

If you enjoy books by authors like Janet Evanovich, M C Beaton and Simon Brett, you'll soon be hooked by the mix of murder, mystery and mirth in this second book in the Colin Crampton Morning Noon & Night trilogy. Come and join the fun…

My Take

This novella is the second in a trilogy, so you really must read the first for it to make any sense at all. As with the first, this is a fairly light fluffy cozy with a murder or two thrown in.

Reporter Colin Crampton's search for the identity of local criminal leads him to the Big Apple, and more unlikely events.

Just a bit of fun, light reading.

My rating: 4.1

I've already read
4.3, MURDER IN THE MORNING EDITION 

9 November 2017

Review: A TALENT FOR MURDER, Andrew Wilson

  • This edition published by Simon & Schuster 2017
  • ISBN 978-1-4711-4822-4
  • 403 Pages
  • Source: my local library
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

`I wouldn't scream if I were you. Unless you want the whole world to learn about your husband and his mistress.' 

Agatha Christie, in London to visit her literary agent, boards a train, preoccupied and flustered in the knowledge that her husband Archie is having an affair. She feels a light touch on her back, causing her to lose her balance, then a sense of someone pulling her to safety from the rush of the incoming train.

So begins a terrifying sequence of events. Her rescuer is no guardian angel; rather, he is a blackmailer of the most insidious, manipulative kind. Agatha must use every ounce of her cleverness and resourcefulness to thwart an adversary determined to exploit her genius for murder to kill on his behalf.

My Take

In the past I have written about what I call "coat-tails" books, those that attach themselves to the success of others. I think this is one such book. To be honest, I wouldn't have read it if it wasn't for the reference to Agatha Christie in the blurb. And yet the allure is very strong. I'm not sure there is even a grain of truth in its explanation of what happened to Agatha Christie in those days in which she disappeared in 1926. And yet the book is very persuasive.

This novel opens with an "Editor's Note", from someone called John Davison. He tells readers that the novel is the result of an agreement between himself and Mrs Christie.

When I first mentioned the idea of this book to her, she was understandably reluctant. However, she agreed to be interviewed on condition that the resulting volume should not be published until at least forty years after her death. I too served my solicitors with notice to the same effect.

So here is the first of the puzzles this novel, mainly using Agatha Christie as narrator. It is indeed 41 years since the death of Agatha Christie.

This work of fiction presents a story of what caused her disappearance in 1926. The author says that he tried to "make sure the facts surrounding Agatha's disappearance in 1926 were as accurate as possible." He has even included real characters from the time, including Archie Christie, and the police detective William Kenward.

So, read it for yourself, and judge how successful you think it is in presenting a plausible story.

The final chapter in the book is the first chapter of A DIFFERENT KIND OF EVIL, Andrew Wilson's next Agatha Christie adventure.

My rating: 4.4

Find out more about The Agatha Christie Reading Challenge

Here is a list of Agatha Christie novels, and Agatha Christie related books, that I have read.

5 November 2017

Review: THE GHOST, Robert Harris - audio book

Synopsis (Publisher's summary)

The moment I heard how McAra died I should have walked away. I can see that now...

The narrator of Robert Harris's gripping new novel is a professional ghostwriter - cynical, mercenary, and with a nice line in deadpan humour. Accustomed to working with fading rock stars and minor celebrities, he jumps at the chance to ghost the memoirs of Britain's former prime minister, especially as it means flying to the American resort of Martha's Vineyard in the middle of winter and finishing the book in the seclusion of a luxurious house.

But it doesn't take him long to realise he has made a terrible mistake. His predecessor on the project died in circumstances that were distinctly suspicious, and the ex-prime minister turns out to be a man with secrets in his past that are returning to haunt him - secrets with the power to kill.

My Take

I've probably missed all the political implications of  this contemporary thriller (see more), but it certainly is a good read. We never find out who the ghost writer is, but he finds out that his predecessor has recently died, and that he must work on the manuscript in the house where his subject, a recently unseated British prime minister, is staying. Not only that, but the timeline for completing the work is incredibly short.  

The ghost writer realises that this is yet another boring autobiography. There is no personal interest to hook the reader and he feels that he will need to cull much of the existing text and find something new as the opening hook. In his quest to be thorough he discovers that much of the text written by his predecessor is not true at all. And then an international news item brings the "hook".

The text is superbly narrated by Michael Jayston.

My rating: 4.8

I've also read
5.0, CONCLAVE
4.8, IMPERIUM
4.6, LUSTRUM
4.5, DICTATOR 

Review: BARKING DOGS, Rebekah Clarkson

  • this edition published 2017 by Affirm Press
  • ISBN 978-925475-49-4
  • 230 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Affirm Press)


Everybody thinks they know this story. But do they? If you took a bird’s-eye view of any sprawling Australian regional town, you’d see ordinary Australians living on their ordinary suburban blocks. Get closer. Peer through a window.

In the town of Mount Barker, you might see Nathan Hearle obsessively recording the bark of a neighbourhood dog, or the Wheeler family sitting down for a meal and trying to come to terms with a shocking discovery. You might hear tales of fathers and their wayward sons, of widows who can’t forgive themselves, of children longed for and lost, of thwarted lust and of pure love. Within the shadows is an unspeakable crime.

Rebekah Clarkson has created a compelling, slow-burning portrait of a town in the midst of major change as it makes the painful transformation from rural idyll to aspirational suburbia. What looked like redemption is now profound loss. What seemed spiteful can now be forgiven. A novel in stories, Barking Dogs is an assured debut from one of Australia’s most respected storytellers.

My Take

This book is an anthology of connected short stories written over half a decade or so. Not only are they connected with some characters appearing in or referred to in more than one story, they nearly all focus on the Adelaide hills town of Mt Barker, currently undergoing incredible change with an influx of new residents, in a myriad of new housing "estates".

The book does not qualify in my mind as crime fiction, although there are plenty of mysteries to be unravelled, and certainly a crime or two committed. Between them the stories explore a range of contemporary issues: the pressures of modern living on young families, the onset of dementia, the effects of death from cancer on a family, barking dogs. Older folk, long time residents, live cheek by jowl with newly arrived families with younger children.

The stories were of particular interest to me because it is an area we travel through every weekend. We have friends who've moved from suburban Adelaide into one of the new Mt. Barker estates. Over the years we have seen farmland sold, cleared, scoured and subdivided into new estates with improbable names. These stories remind the reader that not every rainbow leads to a pot of gold.

The publisher refers to this anthology as a "novel in stories", but I beg to differ. It is as if somehow a "novel" brings higher acclamation. These stories are well crafted and cleverly written. But they don't have a completeness, or denouement, that a novel tries to achieve. In a sense too there is plenty of room left for further stories.

Just one thing extra I could have wished for - a table of contents at the beginning listing the stories by title.

My rating: 4.4

About the author:

Rebekah Clarkson’s award-winning fiction has been published widely, most recently in Best Australian Stories, Australian Book Review and Something Special, Something Rare: Outstanding Short Stories by Australian Women (Black Inc.).
Her stories have been recognised in major awards in Australia and overseas, including the ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize and Glimmer Train’s Fiction Open. She has a BA in Aboriginal Studies and a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Adelaide, where she also teaches. She has taught Fiction Writing at the University of Texas in Austin.

2 November 2017

Review: HER, Garry Disher

  • this edition published by hachette Australia 2017
  • ISBN 978-0-7336-3854-1
  • 209 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (hachette Australia)

 Beautifully and powerfully written, this is a look at the darker side of Australia's past - and particularly the status of girls and women in our society - that will stay with you long after you finish reading.

Out in that country the sun smeared the sky and nothing ever altered, except that one day a scrap man came by . . . 

HER name is scarcely known or remembered. All in all, she is worth less than the nine shillings and sixpence counted into her father's hand.

She bides her time. She does her work.

Way back in the corner of her mind is a thought she is almost too frightened to shine a light on: one day she will run away.

A dark and unsettling tale from the turn of the twentieth century by a master of Australian literature.

My Take

I should first of all make it clear that this is a historical novel rather than crime fiction, although crimes are committed. My impression is that the intended audience is young adult although the writing style is sophisticated and quite demanding.

The time period is 1913 - early 1920s, the setting rural Victoria. Life is hard and a family with too many children and not enough food sells a three year old girl to the scrap man for nine shillings and sixpence. The scrap man's family consists of Wife, Big Girl and now there is You. The little girl never really knows what her real name is. Years later she sees a boy newly enlisted, who she thinks might be her brother.

Big Girl and You do not go to school - the scrap man hides Big Girl and passes You off as feeble-minded. The scrap man travels the country side hawking items his women folk have made at home out of flour bags, torn sheets, fencing wire, and scrap metal. It depicts an Australia that most of us have never known, of life when the horse was central to transport, of life on the road.

I think this is a novel guaranteed to make an impression on readers, teaching about a period that most would have no idea about. This the way to learn history.

In the final pages are some group reading notes, with discussion questions and suggestions for further reading.

My rating: 4.6

I've also read
4.7, WYATT
4.8, WHISPERING DEATH
4.7, BLOOD MOON
4.2, THE HEAT
4.5, SIGNAL LOSS  

What I read in November 2017

October 2017
I 'discovered' a number of new-to-me authors this month (**) and reacquainted myself with some favourites.

My pick of the moth is Michael's Robotham's LOST, this time as an audio book, but if you are looking for a hard copy then I recommend THE SEAGULL by Ann Cleeves
  1. 4.5, RATHER BE THE DEVIL, Ian Rankin
  2. 4.3, AND FIRE CAME DOWN, Emma Viskic
  3. 4.4, TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, Ann Cleeves 
  4. 4.6, SOMETIMES I LIE, Alice Feeney **
  5. 4.4, THE BEEKEEPER, Stewart Giles **
  6. 4.8, LOST, Michael Robotham - audio book 
  7. 4.5, HE SAID, SHE SAID, Erin Kelly **
  8. 4.7, THE SEAGULL, Ann Cleeves 
  9. 4.3, MURDER IN THE MORNING EDITION, Peter Bartram **
 See what others have chosen for their Pick of the Month
 

Review: THE DARK LAKE, Sarah Bailey

  • this edition first published 2017 by Allen & Unwin Australia
  • ISBN 978-1-76029-589-9
  • 429 pages
  • source: my local library 
Synopsis (Allen & Unwin Australia)

A hot summer. A shocking murder. A town of secrets, waiting to explode. A brooding, suspenseful and explosive debut that will grip you from the first page to the last. 

There were a few minutes when I was alone with her in the autopsy room. I felt wild. Absent. Before I could stop myself I was leaning close to her, telling her everything. The words draining out of me as she lay there. Her long damp hair hanging off the back of the steel table. Glassy eyes fixed blindly on the ceiling. She was still so beautiful, even in death.

Our secrets circled madly around the bright white room that morning. Rocking back and forth on my heels as I stood next to her, I knew how far in I was again, how comprehensively her death could undo me. I looked at Rosalind Ryan properly for the last time before breathing deeply, readying myself, letting her pull me back into her world, and I sank down, further and further, until I was completely, utterly under.


A beautiful young teacher has been murdered, her body found in the lake, strewn with red roses. Local policewoman Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock pushes to be assigned to the case, concealing the fact that she knew the murdered woman in high school years before.

But that's not all Gemma's trying to hide. As the investigation digs deeper into the victim's past, other secrets threaten to come to light, secrets that were supposed to remain buried. The lake holds the key to solving the murder, but it also has the power to drag Gemma down into its dark depths.

The Dark Lake is an addictive crime thriller, a mesmerising account of one woman's descent into deceit and madness, and a stunning debut that is already causing a stir around the world.

My Take

Gemma Woodstock is a Detective Sergeant in the town she grew up in.  Rosalind Ryan has recently returned to Smithson to teach in the high school she once attended. When she is murdered shortly after a performance of Romeo and Juliet at the school, Gemma's boss questioned whether there was a conflict of interest in her being involved in the investigation. But she assures him that there is no question about that - her special knowledge of the town and its people will be invaluable. She and Rosalind were in the same class but that was all.

Gemma obviously believes that being involved in the investigation will give her an edge in solving the murder, as well as keeping elements of her own past hidden. There is at least one big secret that she doesn't want anybody to know.

The author uses a time frame device to reveal snippets of the past, generally labelled "Then", alongside carefully dated chapters (together with times) to encapsulate the present. I am never sure when we have carefully labelled time episodes whether I have got the timeline right in my mind. I find myself hoping the author hasn't played a trick on me, put something out of sequence.

Her relationship with the deceased is not the only thing that Gemma is trying to hide, but I'll let you find the rest out for yourself.

A good read from a new Aussie writer that I will have to watch out for.

My rating: 4.7

About the author
Sarah Bailey is a Melbourne based writer with a background in advertising and communications. She has two young children and currently works as a director of creative projects company Mr Smith. Over the past five years she has written a number of short stories and opinion pieces. The Dark Lake is her first novel.

If you are interested in reading something more by Sarah Bailey I have found on Google books what appears to be a set of short stories titles THIS IS HOME

1 November 2017

Pick of the Month - October 2017

Crime Fiction Pick of the Month 2017
Many crime fiction bloggers write a summary post at the end of each month listing what they've read, and some, like me, even go as far as naming their pick of the month.

This meme is an attempt to aggregate those summary posts.
It is an invitation to you to write your own summary post for October 2017, identify your crime fiction best read of the month, and add your post's URL to the Mr Linky below.
If Mr Linky does not appear for you, leave the URL in a comment and I will add it myself.

You can list all the books you've read in the past month on your post, even if some of them are not crime fiction, but I'd like you to nominate your crime fiction pick of the month.

That will be what you will list in Mr Linky too -
e.g.
ROSEANNA, Maj Sjowall & Per Wahloo - MiP (or Kerrie)

You are welcome to use the image on your post and it would be great if you could link your post back to this post on MYSTERIES in PARADISE.


24 October 2017

Review: MURDER IN THE MORNING EDITION, Peter Bartram

  • format: Kindle (Amazon) - currently available for $0
  • File Size: 381 KB
  • Print Length: 158 pages
  • Publisher: The Bartram Partnership (July 4, 2017)
  • Publication Date: July 4, 2017
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B073QWJBPH
  • THE MORNING, NOON AND NIGHT TRILOGY, BOOK 1
Synopsis (Amazon)

Welcome to Brighton, England - where they do like to murder beside the seaside…

Don't you just hate it when you get the afternoon off - and then find yourself chasing a train robber with his loot?

Join ace crime reporter Colin Crampton and his feisty Australian girlfriend Shirley Goldsmith as they embark on a new adventure.

It all starts when Colin spends a lazy afternoon by the beach with Shirley. But when a daring robbery takes place before their very eyes, Colin reckons he's on the trail of a big story.

But nothing about the robbery is what it seems. And before long Colin and Shirley are drawn deeper into danger.

Colin encounters a motorcycle rocker with bad teeth, a dyslexic tattooist, and a seller of novelty toilet roll holders as he chases down his story.

Murder in the Morning Edition is the first part of a mystery adventure trilogy which continues in Murder in the Afternoon Extra and Murder in the Night Final.

My Take

While this isn't his first Colin Crampton story, it is the first time that the author has attempted a mystery as a trilogy. In the introduction he even estimates how long it will take the average reader to read. His opinion is that this is his detective's most thrilling adventure yet.

Elsewhere Peter Bartram calls the book a cosy caper, and I think that is about right. I found it engaging reading with just enough mystery in the main plot to keep me interested. As a bonus, at the end there is a chapter from the next book in the trilogy, just to whet the appetite.

So, here is some light reading, which may take a night or two on your e-book reader. And did I mention it is free?

To be honest, I'm looking forward to the next one.

My rating: 4.3


About the author

Peter Bartram brings years of experience as a journalist to his Crampton of the Chronicle crime mystery series. His novels are fast-paced and humorous - the action is matched by the laughs. The books feature a host of colorful characters as befits stories set in Brighton, one of Britain's most trend-setting towns.
Website: ColinCrampton.com

22 October 2017

Review: THE SEAGULL, Ann Cleeves

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 2306 KB
  • Print Length: 307 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan (August 29, 2017)
  • Publication Date: August 29, 2017
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B072BMV2K9
  • #8 in the Vera Stanhope series 
Synopsis (Amazon)

The Seagull is Ann Cleeves’ searing eighth novel in the bestselling Vera Stanhope series, about corruption deep in the heart of a community, and about fragile, and fracturing, family relationships.

A visit to her local prison brings DI Vera Stanhope face to face with an old enemy: former detective superintendent, and now inmate, John Brace. Brace was convicted of corruption and involvement in the death of a gamekeeper – and Vera played a part in his downfall.

Brace promises Vera information about the disappearance of Robbie Marshall, a notorious wheeler-dealer, if she will look out for his daughter and grandchildren. He tells her that Marshall is dead, his body buried close to St Mary’s Island in Whitley Bay. However, when a search team investigates, officers find not one skeleton, but two.

This cold case takes Vera back in time, and very close to home, as Brace and Marshall, along with a mysterious stranger known only as ‘the Prof’, were close friends of Hector, her father. Together, they were ‘the Gang of Four’, and Hector had been one of the last people to see Marshall alive. Vera must confront her prejudices and unwanted memories to dig out the truth, as the past begins to collide dangerously with the present . . .

My Take

Vera's boss sends her off to the local prison to give a talk to some geriatric inmates. There she comes face to face with John Brace, a bent copper whom she helped put away. Brace says he has some information about a cold case, in return for Vera visiting his daughter. Vera finds she has a lot of sympathy for the daughter Patty who in reality is not doing all that well. There are some aspects of Patty's story that pricks Vera's curiosity, particularly about what happened to Patty's mother who was a prostitute.

Brace is true to his word and tells Vera where to find the body of a man who disappeared some years before. But there they find two bodies, not one, and then Patty's ex-husband is killed.

In this story I particularly liked the fact that Vera was prepared to go the extra mile, and that she expected her team to do so as well. When it all comes together at the end, it has been a very satisfying journey.

When you read this novel, be sure to read the author's note in the final pages about the setting.

My rating: 4.7

I've also read
mini-review RAVEN BLACK - Shetland #1
WHITE NIGHTS - Shetland#2
RED BONES - Shetland #3
5.0, BLUE LIGHTNING - Shetland#4
5.0, DEAD WATER  - Shetland#5
4.6, THIN AIR - Shetland #6
4.3, MURDER IN PARADISE - Palmer-Jones series #3
TELLING TALES (Vera Stanhope) #2
4.8, SILENT VOICES, (Vera Stanhope) #4
5.0, THE GLASS ROOM (Vera Stanhope) #5
4.9, HARBOUR STREET (Vera Stanhope) #6
 4.5, BURIAL OF GHOSTS - stand-alone
4.8, THE MOTH CATCHER (Vera Stanhope #7)
4.4, TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE (Quick Reads)

19 October 2017

review: HE SAID, SHE SAID, Erin Kelly


  • this edition published by Hodder & Stoughton 2017
  • ISBN 978-1-444-79715-2
  • 408 pages
  • source: my local library
  • Author website
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

In the summer of 1999, Kit and Laura travel to a festival in Cornwall to see a total eclipse of the sun. Kit is an eclipse chaser; Laura has never seen one before. Young and in love, they are certain this will be the first of many they'll share.

But in the hushed moments after the shadow passes, Laura interrupts a man and a woman. She knows that she saw something terrible. The man denies it. It is her word against his.

The victim seems grateful. Months later, she turns up on their doorstep like a lonely stray. But as her gratitude takes a twisted turn, Laura begins to wonder - did she trust the wrong person?

15 years later, Kit and Laura married are living under new names and completely off the digital grid: no Facebook, only rudimentary cell phones, not in any directories. But as the truth catches up to them, they realize they can no longer keep the past in the past.

From Erin Kelly, queen of the killer twist, He Said/She Said is a gripping tale of the lies we tell to save ourselves, the truths we cannot admit, and how far we will go to make others believe our side of the story.


My Take

You never think that being witnesses for the prosecution will lead to you having to hide away so that the person who is convicted on the basis of your evidence can't find you, and neither can the woman  that you testified for. But that is what happens to Laura and Kit. Laura is worried about a little lie that she told with the best of intentions. What she doesn't realise is that there are some things that Kit has not said.

For fifteen years Kit and Laura chase eclipses, Laura lives in fear of being tracked down, and she becomes more and more insecure, more and more reliant on Kit. Very nasty events occur that make her feel even more insecure. But in 2015 Kit goes to an eclipse on his own, and this brings everything to a head.

In line with the blurb on the book's cover I am trying desperately not to give the plot away.  The book flashes between several time frames: 1999, 2000, 2015. I found that a bit tiresome as a plot strategy as the jump seemed to happen almost at every change of chapter, and the reader can never really relax.

Nevertheless it is a cleverly constructed novel with a huge twist at the end that I really didn't see coming.

My rating: 4.5

About the author
Erin Kelly was born in London in 1976 and studied English at Warwick University. She has worked as a freelance journalist for ten years, specialising in women, health, sex and lifestyle.

She is the author behind Broadchurch.
Novels
The Poison Tree (2010)
The Sick Rose (2011)
     aka The Dark Rose
The Burning Air (2013)
The Ties That Bind (2014)
He Said / She Said (2017)


Series
Broadchurch (with Chris Chibnall)
1. The End Is Where It Begins (2015)
2. The Letter (2015)
3. Old Friends (2015)
4. Over the Side (2015)
5. Protection (2015)
6. One More Secret (2015)
7. The Leaving of Claire Ripley (2015)
8. Thirteen Hours (2015)
Broadchurch (2014)

14 October 2017

Review: LOST, Michael Robotham - audio book

 Synopsis (Audible)

Detective Inspector Vincent Ruiz is lucky to be alive. A bullet in the leg, another through the hand, he is discovered clinging to a buoy in the River Thames, losing blood and consciousness fast. It takes six days for him to come out of his coma, and when he does, his nightmare is only just beginning. Because Vincent has no recollection of what happened, and nobody believes him.  

From Robotham's website
ON A COLD LONDON NIGHT, HOMICIDE DETECTIVE VINCENT RUIZ IS FISHED OUT OF THE THAMES

with a bullet in his leg and an even bigger hole in his memory. He has no recollection of the shooting or how he finished in the river. The only clue is a photograph found in his pocket of Mickey Carlyle, a seven-year-old girl who went missing three years earlier. A man was convicted of her murder.

But what if the police got it wrong? Ruiz's only hope of unravelling the puzzle is to retrace his steps and re-create the night of the shooting. Under investigation by his colleagues and accused of faking amnesia, he turns to Joe O'Loughlin, a clinical psychologist, who he hopes can unlock his memories. Step by step, they piece together a story of grief, vengeance, and the search for redemption.​


My Take

To be quite honest, in the decade since I first read this book, I've forgotten most of the plot. I do remember that it wasn't quite clear at that stage that Robotham was writing a series - in fact, I am not sure that he himself knew that he was.  The main character of the first book THE SUSPECT was Professor Joe O'Loughlin. Vincent Ruiz was the nasty policeman who arrested Joe on suspicion of murder. And then Ruiz became the central character of LOST and O'Loughlin plays a sort of back up role.

The central theme of the plot in LOST is what Ruiz was doing the night he was shot and nearly drowned in the Thames. He has amnesia, but his memory gradually comes back. Quite clearly other people were shot that night, and might possibly even be dead. Ruiz appears to have been working on his own, and he eventually loses his job as a policeman despite his excellent record.

This book won Michael Robotham the 2005 Ned Kelly Award for best mystery by an Australian author.

I'm listening to audio versions of this series and I'm looking forward to starting THE NIGHT FERRY, which features Detective Constable Alisha Barber, who was Ruiz's offsider in the Met. Check details here.

My rating: 4.8

I've also read
BOMBPROOF
SHATTER #3
SHATTER (audio)
BLEED FOR ME #4
5.0, THE WRECKAGE #5
4.8, SAY YOU'RE SORRY #6
5.0, WATCHING YOU #7
4.8, IF I TELL YOU... I'LL HAVE TO KILL YOU (edit)
5.0, LIFE OR DEATH Shortlisted for the 2015 CWA Gold Dagger
4.8, CLOSE YOUR EYES
5.0, THE SECRETS SHE KEEPS
5.0, THE SUSPECT #1  

Review: THE BEEKEEPER, Stewart Giles

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 1300 KB
  • Print Length: 245 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1912106515
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Joffe Books (May 18, 2017)
  • Publication Date: May 18, 2017
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B072FKXNC8
Synopsis (Amazon)

A shocking discovery starts a trail of mayhem on the Cornish coast.

Alice Green is a beekeeper in the small Cornish village of Polgarrow. She lives with her pet jackdaw in a beautiful cottage not far from the sea. One evening, Alice finds something strange under the hollyhock bush in her garden. The gruesome discovery will change everyone’s lives. And then Alice’s best friend Milly disappears . . .

Detective Harriet Taylor has just transferred to the area from Edinburgh. As she investigates a series of shocking crimes, she grows close to the old beekeeper and is determined to bring the criminals to justice. But who is really what they seem and who can she trust?

A crime mystery with a touch of black humour. You’ll enjoy this fast-paced and dark unearthing of the secrets of a sleepy Cornish village.

My take

This was recommended to me as a lightish read, a cozy, and that is really how I found it.

Three elderly people who were part of a wedding party forty years before all die within the space of a week. And, even though I had my suspicions, the plot kept me guessing almost to the end. The detective, Harriet Taylor is an interesting character, and extra tension arises when she is included in the investigative team when a group of "experts" descend from Exeter because the local team are apparently not getting anywhere.

Alice Green was the fourth member of that wedding party. She is the beekeeper, and her bees have begun producing strange tasting honey, and Alice is worried. She becomes friends with Harriet Taylor and that seems to give her some sort of immunity from suspicion.

I've never read anything before from Stewart Giles and I might just give his other series a try.

My rating: 4.4

About the author
After reading English & Drama at three different English Universities and graduating from none of them, I set off travelling and finally ended up in South Africa, where I still live. I enjoy the serene life running a boat shop on the banks of the Vaal Dam. I came up with the DS Jason Smith idea after my wife dropped a rather large speaker on my head. Whether it was intentional still remains a mystery. Smith, the first in the series was finished in September 2013 and was closely followed by Boomerang and Ladybird. Occam's Razor, Harlequin and Phobia (a series of short stories detailing Smith's early life) were all completed in one hazy 365 days and Selene was done and dusted a few months later. Horsemen, the seventh in the DS Smith thriller series is out now. The Beekeeper, a departure from the DS Smith series will be released through Joffe Books on 22 May. 

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