Saturday, 14 April 2018

Alison Baillie

A second psychological thriller from this author. Eminently readable in a beautiful setting. Loved it!

My review -

When a neighbour’s small daughter is abducted from their idyllic Swiss village, Olivia becomes obsessive about the safety of her own children, particularly Lara, the missing girl’s best friend. Events from Olivia’s past loom large in her mind. This is a psychological thriller in which the beautiful setting is almost a character in itself. It’s a study in watching a person’s past come back to trouble her. It begins with a feeling of unease which ramps up until there’s a definite knowledge that something is very wrong. Only Olivia seems to see that – and the reader. At the climax of the story, things come very close to home for Olivia. I enjoyed this story very much. I love the author’s clear and easy style. Always a pleasure to read.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

David Haynes

There are some authors whose books I leap on the minute they're published. David Haynes is one of them!

Klondike Slaughter link

My review -

Gold fever! The great rush to stake a claim and get rich. This cracking adventure story sees ex lawman Jake and his friend Willie join up with other individuals, including a native Tlingit Indian, to help one another over the gruelling passes and dense wooded terrain on the way to Dawson. Naturally, not everyone is friendly and helpful, and they make enemies as they travel. There are people wanting them dead.

The excitement in this really ramps up when we find that there is something else tracking the group; something that’s messing with their minds. David Haynes incorporates outdoor adventure with horror and legend. It’s a potent mix and it’s done very well. It’s atmospheric, with the snow and the rain as constant enemies. I suspect a lot of good research has gone into this book but the reader isn’t hammered with it. It just makes it very convincing and readable. A thoroughly gripping book.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

C J Harter

A new author to me, and what a stunning debut! 

Rowan's Well link

My review -

This is a story about friendship, love, upbringing, loyalty and so much more. We follow two young men, Matt and Will, from their first meeting at university, through their marriages to twin sisters, and beyond. The tale that unfolds is at times heart-breaking but never boring. The writing is beautiful and the story totally gripping. I stayed up far beyond my bedtime to finish this. It’s that kind of book and I heartily recommend it.

Friday, 6 April 2018

Jim Webster

More tales from Jim's imaginary Land of the Three Seas. These are light amusing and invariably wise.

Tallis Steelyard. The Festival and other stories link

My review -

Another selection of tales from Port Naain, as told by jobbing poet Tallis Steelyard. Read about the underpinnings of dancing matrons, the secret beneath the undergarments of a gentlewoman of the town, the resurrection of a dead mercenary, and much more. This is a gentle comedy of manners in a world so different from our own. The author writes affectionately of his world and his characters, and I share that affection. Lovely stuff.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Denzil Meyrick

This book is the first in a series. Sometimes, you just know you'll be back!

Whisky from Small Glasses link

My review -

DCI Jim Daley is sent from Glasgow to investigate a body on the west coast. The area is another world to Jim and his sidekick – and then more bodies turn up. What I enjoyed about this book was that the main character felt absolutely real. He had his own burdens without being the caricature ‘maverick cop’ so fashionable now. The story works through a haze of gossip in the small community and Jim and his colleagues have to deal with a death for which he blames himself. This is the first in a series and is very well set up with plenty of possibilities for future stories. I found it extremely compelling and I know I’ll read more.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Malcolm Hollingdrake

This is a short story - a quick read - but it has a great purpose. Proceeds to the British Legion. 

The Penultimate Man link

My review -

This is a short story about Harry’s experiences towards the end of the first World War. It encapsulates the hopeful elation of young love and the terrible losses of the battlefield. One is glorious, the other tragic. It’s a poignant and affecting read, and the profits go to the British Legion. Well worth a read.

Friday, 30 March 2018

Shalini Boland

Another cracker from this author. I find her style very readable and very tension-inducing! 

The Child Next Door link

My review - 

Shalini Boland is the mistress of tension. Kirstie, on maternity leave, hears voices on her baby monitor which lead her to believe someone’s trying to kidnap her baby. The author ramps up the suspicion that Kirstie is suffering from post-natal depression, being tense, somewhat OCD and believing the worst of a number of her neighbours. The reader isn’t sure what’s going on but it’s easy to believe that the new mother is making heavy weather of things. We have a tendency to dismiss her fears in much the same way her husband does. But there’s more going on in the house next door than even she suspected. A very satisfying story.

Friday, 23 March 2018

Joel Hames

A long-awaited Sam Williams story. It was worth the wait!

Dead North link

My review -

Lawyer Sam Williams is called in as a consultant when two police officers are shot dead. It looks like an open-and-shut case but the chief suspect isn’t speaking at all. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t met Sam in previous books, as this story stands brilliantly alone. It’s fast-moving enough for any thriller reader and with believable twists. The last quarter of the book was so exciting I had to stop myself trying to skim-read to find out what happened. It’s worth savouring. It’s a fast and bumpy ride, so hold on tightly. Highly recommended.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Bill Todd

Another Danny Lancaster story. Part of a series but it'll stand alone.

Godlefe's Cuckoo link

My review -

After an explosion on a small boat eighteen months ago, Danny Lancaster is missing, presumed dead. He’s crossed a Russian who wants to make sure he is, and to pull him out of hiding if he isn’t, by killing his known friends.

This is a taut thriller with some nasty people. Danny has to remain focused to remove the threat. He knows that might mean some of those he cares for are put in harm’s way. The two people who found him after the explosion are resourceful people and their clear heads are vital in a hostage situation. I believe this story would work well as a stand-alone, not just another in a series. There are several points in the story where I wondered how it could possibly work out well for Danny. There’s some real heart-in-mouth stuff in this story and I enjoyed it very much.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Will Dean

A dark, unsettling story and a very impressive debut novel.

Dark Pines link

My review -

In a refreshing departure from the fashion for maverick detectives solving crime mysteries, here the main protagonist is a newspaper reporter. Tuva Moodyson is in the small town of Gavrik to be close to her dying mother. The town is in the dark pines of Utgard Forest and the whole story feels claustrophobic and enclosed. Modern murders take the same form as unsolved murders from twenty years ago. Tuva wants to find the truth because that’s what she deals in.

I found the characters really interesting, both good and bad. Tuva is a great protagonist as she’s young, keen, yet dogged by guilt about her mother. I found the pace of the story good and the ending very exciting. I highly recommend this to people who enjoy mystery stories but want a change from the usual police procedural. A great and confident debut novel.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Jane Harper

This crime/thriller is set during a drought in Australia and tensions are high. I couldn't put this one down.

The Dry link

My review - 

Aaron Falk returns to his childhood home – a small outback town – for the funeral of his school friend, Luke, brutally shot with his own gun. Luke’s wife and young son were also shot to death. That’s just the start. Murder/suicide? Can it be that simple? As we pick apart the toxic relationships in the town, anything could be possible. Jane Harper guides us through the web of deceit and enmity in a way which had me turning pages for dear life. I absolutely love this story. A hearty five stars.

Monday, 5 March 2018

S E Lynes

A third excellent book - S. E. Lynes is rapidly becoming a favourite author!

The Pact link

My review -

Two sisters who lived through abuse as children make a pact to protect one another. Toni, the younger, has a little girl and is very protective of her. They form a triangle. How far can we go to protect our families, our children? What do we worry about? Are we worried about the wrong things? Are we missing the real dangers? The story, told from different viewpoints, is exciting, and the themes are real food for thought. Susie Lynes writes elegantly and directly. I love her style and her ideas. I absolutely adored this book and I know it’ll stay with me for a long time.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Oliver Tidy

A dystopian thriller now from a man who isn't fazed by genre!

The Prole Soldier link

My review -

I came to know this author as the writer of crime/mystery/thriller stories. This isn’t so much a change of genre as a widening of the horizons, as there are crimes, thrills and mysteries enough for anyone in here.

This rather grim, futuristic story shows how people can be inured to injustice and feel unable to question their lot in life. If they have no rights, and have never had them, they have no belief in their own ability to take their futures in hand and make their own decisions. If they’ve been threatened by external forces and told that their needs are catered for and the authorities are protecting them, they come to believe it. All it takes is one boy with a belief in justice and a hard-won knowledge of the unfairness of the system and things can be changed. Theo is a catalyst for change and the story is totally gripping and has a few heart-stopping moments that I thought he could never come back from. The story ends in a satisfying way, but I’m so glad that this is the first part of a trilogy. I’ll certainly be reading more.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Samatha Hayes

Here's a really enjoyable story with some characters steeped in survivor guilt and others hiding secrets. Gripping stuff.

The Reunion link

My review -

This is a story of a missing child, now an adult, and a cast of characters, several of whom appear to be dodgy in one way or another. I really thought I knew what had happened and who was responsible – several times. This is a very well-constructed story. People are not necessarily who we think we are and it doesn’t pay to be complacent. Feelings of survivor guilt are well explored and the characters felt real, to me. I found it a really enjoyable book and a hard one to put down.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Rachel Abbott

Another excellent offering from Rachel Abbott. She's never let me down yet!

Come a Little Closer link

My review -

A young woman is found dead in a country park with no wounds and no apparent cause of death. It looks like assisted suicide. Tom Douglas and his team find another case of a similar type and a pattern emerges. Callie, another young woman is helped by a mother figure after meeting her on a cruise. She’s given accommodation at the older woman’s house and things begin to deteriorate. Tom’s on the case.

This story is very persuasive in terms of the psychological effects of the woman and her partner, a retired psychiatrist, on the girl Callie, who believes she murdered her boyfriend. Another girl has gone missing, the sister of one of Tom’s old friends. The tangled web Rachel Abbott weaves is both intriguing and horrifying and I found myself living this story. I was totally gripped by it.

Oliver Tidy

It's not often that I go straight from one book in a series to the next, but these books are so good!

Poor Hands link

My review -

This is the third of the Booker and Cash series and I've enjoyed them all. David Booker sees a young girl enter his shop. She's ill-clad and is being pursued by a huge thug of a man. Jo Cash is asked by a mysterious American client to find any surviving family of a woman who died in childbirth. One of David’s customers is a young man he suspects is autistic. A group of people to whom life has dealt a poor hand.

This is another extremely readable tale from Oliver Tidy. Booker and Cash are a great team (though technically, they’re not) and the author makes his readers care about them, and about some of the people they’re dealing with. The strands of the story work together in a satisfying way, and the banter between the main characters is very funny at times. There’s enough excitement for any reader, with a car chase and a hostage scene. It’s heart-racing stuff. Altogether, a most satisfying read.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Oliver Tidy

Second in the Booker and Cash series. I'm enjoying these characters!

He Made Me link

My review -

Rebecca Swaine engages the services of Jo Cash to find out why her husband is being blackmailed, and of David Booker to act for her in selling some rare books to finance the investigations. Two suicides later and the pair are in the midst of a really unusual case.

I enjoyed this because it isn’t the usual ‘whodunnit’ murder, but is a genuine mystery with an art connection. I feel you would need to read the first book, Bad Sons, to get the most out of the situation here. Oliver Tidy’s writing is always a delight and I love the humour in these stories too. A really good read.

Sam Kates

This is just a short story but it packs a punch, and shows what the author's capable of. It's free, too.

Dying by Numbers link

My review -

From the title, this sounded like a murder mystery, but the cover conveys the truth. It’s short, maybe eighteen pages, but it packs so much in. A survivor of one of the death camps, with the help of his daughter, has found the daughter of one of his companions in the camp. One who didn’t survive.

For such a short story, this is complex and poignant. It packs so much into the present and the memories of the time in the camps. Things are never simple. Really well worth the short time it will take you to read. It’s free and gives you a real flavour of the author’s writing.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Malcolm Hollingdrake

Sixth in a series but I believe you can dip in and out with these books. Each stands well on its own.

Crossed Out link

My review -

When a book starts with missing persons, acid attacks, drugs and bodies, you know you’re in for a tangled tale. Cyril, his team augmented this time by a new girl, April, have their work cut out. April, as Cyril advises, occasionally goes with her gut. He is happy to follow it. His own past is further explored, and his relationship with Dr Pritchett deepens. Altogether, there’s a huge lot going on in here.

I really enjoyed this story. When you think you know what’s going on you’re thrown a curve-ball. The whole thing was tied together with biblical quotes as there’s a character who has taken on the task of correcting sinners. This was a complex piece of story-telling with a lot of characters but it all worked for me. A very enjoyable read.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Oliver Tidy

The author is a recent discovery for me. I'm finding his work extremely good!

Bad Sons link

My review -

David Booker returns from working abroad to help his uncle pack a big order from his bookshop. His uncle and aunt aren't at home when he gets there. The story starts with a great sense of wrongness and unease and gets worse. Booker meets Detective Jo Cash and the two follow clues. This looks like being a great partnership.

Oliver Tidy has created some memorable characters here, and an immense feeling of mounting tension. Because of one young man’s rashness there were potentially several deaths. It was brilliantly done. I enjoyed this very much and there's a promise here of a great series.

David Wailing

This is one of those once in a  lifetime ideas and I totally bought into it!

Under link

My review -

I’ve been looking forward to this book since I read its short (free) prequel Signal Failure. There’s a mystery surrounding some of the abandoned stations on the London Underground and a dedicated few are trying to find out their secrets. Four young place hackers, led by Jake, are trying to find a way into one of these stations but he has an agenda of his own. Mike Thames, journalist, is on a mission fuelled by his father’s old letters. They concern abandoned stations and sections of line and he wonders if there’s a connection between all this and his father’s disappearance when Mike was a boy.

I was just along for the ride, you might say, for the first few percent of this book then bam – a mystery, and that excited me. Once the hook bit, the line pulled taut and I was dragged along in the wake of the unfolding story. I admit that what developed is not at all what I’d expected from Signal Failure – and yet, looking back at it, the two stories remain faithful to one another. It’s all in the reader’s perception. This book is a conspiracy theorist’s Christmas and birthday rolled into one. It became exciting and horrifying in equal measure. If you want something completely different, this is your next read.

Malcolm Hollingdrake

Crossed out is the sixth in the DCI Bennet series. It's a tangled web and very engrossing.

Crossed Out link

My review -

When a book starts with missing persons, acid attacks, drugs and bodies, you know you’re in for a tangled tale. Cyril, his team augmented this time by a new girl, April, have their work cut out. April, as Cyril advises, occasionally goes with her gut. He is happy to follow it. His own past is further explored, and his relationship with Dr Pritchett deepens. Altogether, there’s a huge lot going on in here.

I really enjoyed this story. When you think you know what’s going on you’re thrown a curve-ball. The whole thing was tied together with biblical quotes as there’s a character who has taken on the task of correcting sinners. This was a complex piece of story-telling with a lot of characters but it all worked for me. A very enjoyable read.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Susan Handley

An excellent debut novel and first in a series.

A Confusion of Crows link

My review -

Cat McKenzie is a recently appointed detective. Her boss is her late brother’s best friend. Cat feels she has his memory to live up to. They begin to investigate the murder, by garrotte, of a young woman. They think they have the killer, only to find another woman murdered by the same method, while their suspect is in custody. Then a third body turns up. Are they connected?

This is an excellent debut novel and augurs very well for a potential series. Cat is sometimes hesitant, sometimes reckless, as a new detective would be when feeling her feet in the job. She has to contend with a chauvinist boyfriend and a sergeant who is a bit of a dinosaur. I found it all very realistic and exciting. It was great to see the way Cat grew both in her personal and professional life throughout the book. A highly recommended read.

Muhammad Khan

A Young Adult book with a great deal for any age. I really enjoyed this one.

I am Thunder link

My review - 

Muzna is a plain looking girl who lacks self-confidence. Her Muslim parents move her to a new school when her father loses his job and her best friend is deemed to be a bad influence. At her new school she falls for Arif, the school heart-throb who, unbelievably, falls for her too. His brother persuades Muzna to wear the hijab. Her own parents disapprove. Gradually, she finds she’s become enmeshed in more than she’s comfortable with. Can she be true to herself?

This story is immediate and compelling. It’s upfront and up-to-date and I read it over 24 hours in two long sessions. It considers, without preaching, what life is like for a young, British-born Muslim girl who feels herself pulled in different directions. I highly recommend this for young and old readers.

Thanks to Netgalley for an early copy of this book.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Joanna Cannon

I was offered the chanced to read this by Netgalley. I'd heard so much about The Trouble with Sheep and Goats so I jumped at the chance. Still not read that - but I now have a copy.

Three Things About Elsie link

My review -

Elsie is Florence’s lifelong best friend. Florence has just fallen in her sheltered accommodation and while waiting for someone to call and help her up, she dwells on her life, both recent and in the past. A new man has come to live in one of the flats and Florence recognises him as a man she knew had died in the 1950s. It’s Elsie who helps Florence to remember the past and the secret she’s successfully hidden from herself.

This is beautifully observed and in places very funny. Her friend Jack helps her to find out what the man is up to. They engineer a trip to Whitby for the whole community in order to follow a trail. She wants to know where the name he’s using now came from and why he’s trying to drive her mad and make her appear demented. The gradual unfolding of Florence’s past is brilliantly done, with the help of Elsie, and I enjoyed the book enormously.

Thanks to Netgalley for an advance copy.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

L M Krier

A prequel. I've only read Book 1 (so far) but it fills in some gaps. If you want to start this series (and I've enjoyed it so far) this is the place.

The First Time Ever link

My review -

I think many readers of this prequel will be fierce fans of the Ted Darling series already. I’ve only read the first but enjoyed it so much that I pre-ordered this. We see here several firsts in Ted’s life, such as his first kill as a firearms officer, his first meeting with Trev, his partner, the first time they adopt a cat (rapidly followed by another six!) and his first cases in CID.

I enjoy the characters in these books. Story and character are both important to me and here we are given both. This was a book I struggled to put down at bedtime and found it a gripping read. If Ted has a fault, he’s too good to be true but I sincerely hope there are at least as many decent, kind, generous and hard-working DIs in the force as popular fiction would have us believe there are drunken, maverick misfits. This is one police officer I want to believe in!

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Beverley Carter

The third of the Eden Reid mysteries - a real page-turner.

Sleeping Dogs link

My review -

A man is found horribly mutilated outside an old lady’s house. Eden goes to see her – she can’t keep herself to herself. She then visits the widow of the murdered man. She’s genuinely concerned – not a nosy person! The widow knows who’s behind it but daren’t speak up. There’s all manner of things going on in this sleepy village, including dog fighting and wife beating and they’re all tied up with the political ambitions of a rich man.

It was lovely to meet some old friends from earlier stories here, though the book doesn’t depend on them. I think it can be read as a one-off. I love the Eden Reid mysteries because it’s not DS or DCI Eden Reid. It’s Miss Reid, the woman in the street. You can put yourself in her position. Her concern for the victims and her loathing of corruption come through and will be shared by readers. Another cracking good story in this series.

Jodi Picoult

My first review of 2018 is a five star stunner!

Small Great Things link

My review -

What a story this is! Ruth is a dedicated nurse in a baby delivery unit. As occasionally happens, a child sadly dies, but in this case, after Ruth has been forbidden to care for him. His parents are white supremacists and Ruth is the only African American nurse on the unit. The parents want to sue but the hospital throws Ruth to the dogs. She’s going to be left to take the blame and face the law suit.

This is an absolutely gripping story. It drips with unfairness. The prosecuting lawyer is black, Ruth’s lawyer is white, yet the issue of race mustn’t be mentioned in court, even though it’s blindingly obvious that it’s at the bottom of the whole situation. I have enjoyed every Jodi Picoult novel I’ve ever read but this one is up there with the best. I was totally swept away by it.