15 May 2018

Review: RUSH OF BLOOD, Mark Billingam

  • this large print edition published by W F Howes Ltd 2012
  • ISBN 978-1-47120-637-5
  • 518 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

Perfect strangers. A perfect holiday. The perfect murder...

Three couples meet around the pool on their Florida holiday and become fast friends. But on their last night, their perfect holiday takes a tragic twist: the teenage daughter of another holidaymaker goes missing, and her body is later found floating in the mangroves. When the shocked couples return home, they remain in contact, and over the course of three increasingly fraught dinner parties they come to know one another better. But they don't always like what they find: buried beneath these apparently normal exteriors are some dark secrets, hidden kinks, ugly vices... Then, a second girl goes missing. Could it be that one of these six has a secret far darker than anybody can imagine? A brilliantly plotted, utterly gripping thriller about the danger of making friends on holiday.

My take

3 couples: Angie and Barry, Sue and Ed, Marina and Dave, meet at a Florida resort, and on their last day at the hotel the intellectually challenged daughter of another holiday maker goes missing. The three British couples are questioned about their whereabouts at the time the girl went missing, and nothing seems suspicious and they are allowed to fly home.

The structure of the book is interesting: emails arranging dinner parties once they are home, chapters exploring how each couple happened to take that holiday along with other details of their marriages, interspersed with the occasional chapter in the voice of the murderer.

At their first meeting back in London the conversation inevitably turns to whether the missing girl in Florida has been found. Back in Florida We are introduced to Detective Jeffrey Gardner, in charge of the investigation. Six weeks after she disappeared the body of the young girl is found, and in London the Lewisham CID room gets a request from the Florida detective for follow up interviews of the British tourists. The task is handed to Trainee Detective Constable Jenny Quinlan who is determined to make her mark. And then a second girl goes missing, but this time in Jenny's territory.

This was a really well plotted story. It had me asking who the murderer was- trying to identify him or her from those very short chapters that kept popping up.

As it turned I was very nearly right, but the author inserted a couple of real twists at the end.

My rating: 4.5 

I've also read
4.3, TALKING TO THE DEAD

11 May 2018

Review: THE VANISHING BOX, Elly Griffiths

  • this edition published by Quercus (UK) 2017
  • ISBN 978-1-78429-700-8
  • 351 pages
  • #4 in the Stephens & Mephisto Mystery series
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (publisher)

The fourth Stephens and Mephisto mystery from the author of the bestselling Dr Ruth Galloway series, for fans of Agatha Christie and Anthony Horowitz
 
'Vivid description, masterful sleight of hand and a lightness of touch add up to a terrific read for aficionados and newcomers alike' Guardian

Winter, 1953. A young flower seller is found dead in her room at a Brighton boarding-house, posed with chilling perfection into a recreation of the death of Lady Jane Grey. This is a killer unlike any DI Edgar Stephens has encountered before.

Across the city at the Hippodrome theatre, Max Mephisto is top of the bill in a double act with his daughter Ruby. Tarnishing the experience, though, is one of the other acts: a seedy 'living tableaux' show where barely-dressed women strike poses from famous historical scenes. Is the resemblance to the murder scene pure coincidence, or is life imitating art?

When another death occurs - this time within the troupe itself - Max once again finds himself involved in one of Edgar's cases, and a threat that will come closer to home than anything before. What should be just a job is about to become personal.

My take


When people ask me about the best way to tackle a book that is part of a series, I always tell them to start with the first book. Well, this time I didn't take my own advice and I think I paid the penalty.

One of the benefits of reading a series from the first book is that you meet the characters as they are introduced and read of the events in their lives, and then follow the minor plots as they develop. There were references to previous events in THE VANISHING BOX about which I had no clue and could only surmise what had happened. Similarly I was coming to the main characters cold and had little idea, apart from hints dropped in the book, about the connections between them. As the story progressed those omissions mattered less, but the end result was that it took me a while to warm to the main characters and to begin to enjoy the story.

I like the time frame of 1953. World War II is an event that connects the investigative duo of DCI Edgar Stephens and Max Mephisto the magician, and this is the time of variety halls and boarding houses. The world has an old-fashioned feel about it, of a morality not quite the same as ours. Policewomen who actively participate in investigations of murder are new, and there is a feeling in the force that they need to be protected from gruesome sights and are best as providing comfort in distressing situations.

In the long run it was an entertaining read but for most of the time I had little idea who the murderer was, so the final explanation came as a bit of a surprise.



My rating: 4.4


About the author
WINNER OF THE 2016 CWA DAGGER IN THE LIBRARY. Elly Griffiths was born in London. She worked in publishing before becoming a full-time writer. Her bestselling series of Dr Ruth Galloway novels, featuring a forensic archaeologist, are set in Norfolk. The series has won the CWA Dagger in the Library, and has been shortlisted three times for the Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. Her Stephens and Mephisto series is based in 1950s Brighton. She lives near Brighton with her husband, an archaeologist, and their two children.

6 May 2018

Review: THE FIX, David Baldacci

  • this edition published by Hachette Book Group 2017
  • ISBN 978-1-4879-4546-8
  • 417 pages
  • #3 in the Amos Decker series
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

Amos Decker witnesses a murder just outside FBI headquarters. A man shoots a woman execution-style on a crowded sidewalk, then turns the gun on himself.

Even with Decker's extraordinary powers of observation and deduction, the killing is baffling. Decker and his team can find absolutely no connection between the shooter--a family man with a successful consulting business--and his victim, a schoolteacher. Nor is there a hint of any possible motive for the attack.

Enter Harper Brown. An agent of the Defense Intelligence Agency, she orders Decker to back off the case. The murder is part of an open DIA investigation, one so classified that Decker and his team aren't cleared for it.

But they learn that the DIA believes solving the murder is now a matter of urgent national security. Critical information may have been leaked to a hostile government--or worse, an international terrorist group--and an attack may be imminent.

Decker's never been one to follow the rules, especially with the stakes so high. Forced into an uneasy alliance with Agent Brown, Decker remains laser focused on only one goal: solving the case before it's too late.

My Take:

Amos Decker is "the memory man" - the man who has a photographic memory, the man who can never forget. He also appears to others to be a little tunnel-visioned, perhaps a touch autistic. He hasn't always been that way. His special powers are the result of severe concussion which has put his brain onto a permanent state of video record.

The murder takes place right in front of Decker, in front of the FBI headquarters in Washington DC. And nothing about it seems to make sense.The shooter is a respectable business man on his way to a meeting at headquarters and he doesn't appear to know the victim at all. The FBI investigation gets a set back when a DIA tells them that they must surrender the investigation to them.

The case turns out to be one of "homeland security", that state of awareness that the USA has been in since 9/11. But the issues that result in the shooting go back decades.

My Rating: 4.4

I've also read THE WHOLE TRUTH

5 May 2018

Review: RECALLED TO LIFE, Reginald Hill - audio book

  • source: my local library
  • Narrated by: Brian Glover
  • Series: Dalziel & Pascoe, Book 13
  • Length: 11 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook 
  • ISBN: 1-4915-7352-X / 978-1-4915-7352-5 (USA edition)
    Publisher: Brilliance Audio
  • Release date: 08-29-05 
  • originally published 1992 

Synopsis (Audible)

1963. It was the year of the Profumo Scandal, the Great Train Robbery, the Kennedy Assassination ...and the Mickledore Hall Murder. The guests at the hall that weekend had included a Tory minister, a CIA officer specializing in dirty tricks, a British diplomat with royal connections, and Cissy Kohler, a young American nanny who had come to England for love. And love kept her in England for nearly 30 years. In jail. For murder.

Detective Superintendent Andrew Dalziel is convinced that Cissy Kohler was -- and is -- guilty. But, investigating further, he soon finds his certainties being eroded. Not a state of affairs Dalziel can put up with for long, particularly when his old mentor's reputation is at stake. Not to mention his own...

My Take

The decision by the narrator/publisher to have the Yorkshire accent feature so strongly in this audio book was a brave one, and, for this non-Yorkshire listener, a trying one. I kept wishing they would lapse into "proper" English.

The story begins with the release of Cissy Kohler from prison, her sentence quashed, but the reason for the release is not given. "New evidence at come to light" - at the instigation of an American TV host into whose care Cissy is released.

The conviction obtained 30 years before is under scrutiny, especially the role played by the now-dead Inspector Tallantire, Dalziel's old boss. If Cissy Kohler is innocent, what does that mean in the case of Mickledore who was hanged for the murder? 

In the long run the plot was a very complex one with some historical roots. Listening to an audio version probably detracted from my ability to follow the plot, as it is very difficult to check on a point that you didn't quite get the significance of at first. This book also has little quotations at the beginning of each chapter, and their meaning often quite eluded me.

I was struck though by Reginald Hill's at times quirky sense of humour, interesting turn of phrase, an allusions to other literature.

My rating: 4.4

I've also read
A CURE FOR ALL DISEASES
ASKING FOR THE MOON
4.5, CHILD'S PLAY
DEATH OF A DORMOUSE
MIDNIGHT FUGUE
THE SPY'S WIFE
THE ROAR OF THE BUTTERFLIES
THERE ARE NO GHOSTS IN THE SOVIET UNION
4.8, THE WOODCUTTER 

3 May 2018

Review: THE RUIN, Dervla McTiernan

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 704 KB
  • Print Length: 332 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (February 19, 2018)
  • Publication Date: February 19, 2018
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0758ZBY2K
Synopsis (Amazon)


Galway 1993: Young Garda Cormac Reilly is called to a scene he will never forget. Two silent, neglected children - fifteen-year-old Maude and five-year-old Jack - are waiting for him at a crumbling country house. Upstairs, their mother lies dead.

Twenty years later, a body surfaces in the icy black waters of the River Corrib. At first it looks like an open-and-shut case, but then doubt is cast on the investigation's findings - and the integrity of the police. Cormac is thrown back into the cold case that has haunted him his entire career - what links the two deaths, two decades apart? As he navigates his way through police politics and the ghosts of the past, Detective Reilly uncovers shocking secrets and finds himself questioning who among his colleagues he can trust.

What really did happen in that house where he first met Maude and Jack? The Ruin draws us deep into the dark heart of Ireland and asks who will protect you when the authorities can't - or won't.

My Take

Cormac Reilly has recently moved back to Galway from a top notch crime unit in Dublin. But he is finding it hard to fit in. Others at the station turn their backs on him, or try to score points at his expense. He is assigned to routine enquiries into cold cases, well below his level of experience. Then an apparent suicide turns out to be someone from his early days as a Garda. Coincidentally, it seems, he is assigned to the cold case twenty years before where he first met Jack Blake, the young man who has just died in the River Corrib.

It is hard to believe this is a debut novel, it is written with such assurance of tone. The plotting is clean with quite a number of well developed strands, while the characterisation is excellent, and relationships between characters well explored. I liked the linking between cold cases and current ones, with a clear indication of the role modern technologies can play - not just DNA but apps like Google Timeline.

An author's note at the end tells readers there is a second novel to be released in 2019. I certainly look forward to seeing it.

My rating: 4.8

About the author
Dervla McTiernan was born in County Cork, Ireland, to a family of seven. She studied corporate law at the National University of Ireland, Galway, and the Law Society of Ireland, and then practiced as a lawyer for twelve years. Following the global financial crisis she moved with her family to Western Australia, where she now lives with her husband and two children. In 2015 she submitted a story for the Sisters in Crime Scarlet Stiletto competition and was shortlisted. This gave her the confidence to complete her first novel, The Ruin

What I read in April 2018

April 2018

I read a good range of books in the last month
My Pick of the Month is THE GIRL BEFORE by J P Delaney
See what others have chosen for their Pick of the Month.

1 May 2018

Pick of the Month: April 2018

Crime Fiction Pick of the Month 2018
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 April 2018, 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.


LinkWithin

Blog Widget by LinkWithin