30 April 2016

Review: LAST WILL, Liza Marklund

  • this edition published by Atria Books 2012
  • English translation by Neil Smith 2011
  • Originally published in Swedish 2006
  • ISBN 978-1-4516-0692-8
  • source: my local library
  • 399 pages
Synopsis (Random House Books Australia)

A frosty December night in Stockholm.
A thousand guests attend the prestigious Nobel Prizewinners' dinner.
The evening is one of prestige and glamour.
Until two shots are fired on the dance floor.

Crime reporter Annika Bengtzon is there, covering the event for the Evening Post. As the police realize she caught a glimpse of the suspect, she is far more interested in getting back to the newsroom.

But as more brutal murders follow, Annika finds herself in the middle of something far larger than she had anticipated. No longer just a reporter but also a vulnerable key witness, she begins to close up the gaps linking these crimes, just as the suspect starts closing the net on Annika herself.

My Take

I have only read one novel by Lisa Marklund earlier: 4.5, THE BOMBER and my memory is pretty vague.

So, as needs must, this novel worked pretty well for me as a stand-alone, although it was apparent there was quite a back story involving Annika's relationship with the police Inspector Q. This novel is mid way in the series.

Annika was only meters away from the assassin who fired the shots at the Nobel Prizewinner's dinner and killed a scientist. Because she can therefore give them valuable information about the person who fired the shots, the police put a ban on her releasing information. She assists them in creating an identikit picture but is put on idefinite leave from her newspaper as it becomes apparent that none of her work can be published. Her leave, on full pay, coincides with an office reorganisation, and her family's move to a new house in the country leads to conflict with a very crusty neighbour.

The biggest danger comes though when the assassin realises that Annika can identify her. Although Annika can't get anything published she continues to investigate the case, trying to find out why the original victim was murdered.

The main story runs parallel to information about Alfred Nobel himself, and disagreements among scientists in particular about whether the prizes actually fulfil the intentions of Nobel's final will.

Very readable.

My rating: 4.5

The Annika Bengston series (Fantastic Fiction)
1. Studio Sex (2002)
     aka Studio 69 / Exposed
2. Paradise (2000)
     aka Vanished
3. Prime Time (2002)
4. The Bomber (2001)
5. Red Wolf (2003)
6. Last Will (2012)
7. Lifetime (2013)
8. The Long Shadow (2013)
9. Borderline (2014)
10. Without a Trace (2015)
11. The Final Word (2016)

27 April 2016

Review: DYING FOR A TASTE, Leslie Karst

  • source: review copy from Netgalley
  • File Size: 1029 KB
  • Print Length: 306 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1629535974
  • Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (April 12, 2016)
  • Publication Date: April 12, 2016
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Available from Amazon for Kindle
Synopsis (Net Galley)
After losing her mother to cancer, Sally Solari quits her job as an attorney to help her dad run his old-style Italian eatery in Santa Cruz, California. But managing the front of the house is far from her dream job.

Then in a sudden twist her Aunt Letta is found murdered in her own restaurant, and Sally is the only one who can keep the place running. But when her sous chef is accused of the crime, and she finds herself suddenly short-staffed, Sally must delve into the world of sustainable farming—not to mention a few family secrets--to help him clear his name and catch the true culprit before her timer runs out.

Leslie Karst serves a platter of intrigue in her stirring and satisfying debut Dying for a Taste, which is sure to become a new favorite of food mystery fans. 

My take

There is a lot about her Aunt Letta that Sally Solari doesn't know, in fact they weren't even really all that close, and it comes a great surprise to her when she inherits her aunt's restaurant. Aunt Letta's murder was quite vicious, but surely no-one hated her that much? And then Sally finds evidence that Letta had been being threatened. She is galvanised into action when, in the absence of any other suspects, the police arrest the head cook of her new restaurant.

Towards the end I felt that there were actually too many suspects and that blurred the plot lines a bit. Ultimately though quite a satisfying read, with a few recipes in the final pages to stimulate your culinary juices.

My rating: 4.2

About the author
Originally from Southern California, Leslie Karst moved north to attend UC Santa Cruz (home of the Fighting Banana Slugs), and after graduation, parlayed her degree in English literature into employment waiting tables and singing in a new wave rock and roll band. Exciting though this life was, she eventually decided she was ready for a "real" job, and ended up at Stanford Law School.

For the next twenty years Leslie worked as the research and appellate attorney for Santa Cruz's largest civil law firm. During this time, she discovered a passion for food and cooking, and so once more returned to school--this time to earn a degree in Culinary Arts.

Now retired from the law, Leslie spends her time cooking, singing alto in the local community chorus, gardening, cycling, and of course writing. She and her wife and their Jack Russell mix, Ziggy, split their time between Santa Cruz and Hilo, Hawai'i.

24 April 2016

Review: A DARK AND TWISTED TIDE, Sharon Bolton (S.J. Bolton)

  • this edition published by Bantam Press 2014
  • ISBN: 9780593069196
  • 444 pages
  • source: my local library
  • #4 Lacey Flint series
  • author website: http://www.sharonbolton.com/
Synopsis ( author website)

Police sergeant Lacey Flint thinks she’s safe.

She thinks her new job with the river police, and her new life on a house boat, will keep her away from danger. But she’s wrong.

When Lacey discovers a body in the water, and sinister offerings appear in her home, she fears someone is trying to expose her darkest secret.

And the river is the last place she should be.

My Take

I'm sure I have read an S.J. Bolton title before but not in the history of this blog apparently, hence the "new-to-me" label.

So I broke into this series so to speak and there were references to events in Lacey Flint's past that I really needed a bit more background to.

Nevertheless the novel really worked quite well for me. Plenty of tension. References to recent political events such as the war in Afghanistan, people smuggling, IVF etc. The setting is the River Thames and Lacey Flint has come to work with the River Police. She finds a body floating in the river near her home, wrapped in burial cloths. It links with an event in the past where she was nearly drowned, when her team apprehended a boat smuggling a woman late at night. Parts of the story are also told from the point of view of a couple of the women who have been brought in from overseas. It is unclear for most of the story why these women are being brought into Britain but some of them are turning up as corpse.

My rating: 4.5

About the author

Sharon Bolton's previous novels have been published under the title of S.J. Bolton. I am not sure what has prompted the name change - a perhaps a desire to be separated on the shelves from other SJ crime fiction authors such as S.J. Watson and S.J. Rozan.
In 2014 she was awarded a CWA Dagger in the Library.

23 April 2016

Review: THE BARRAKEE MYSTERY, Arthur Upfield - audio book

  • First published in 1929, #1 in the Napoleon Bonaparte titles
  • Available from Audible
  • Narrated by: Peter Hosking
  • Length: 8 hrs and 16 mins 
  • Unabridged Audiobook
Synopsis (Audible)

Why was the redoubtable King Henry, an aborigine from Western Australia, killed during a thunderstorm in New South Wales? What was the feud that led to murder after nineteen long years had passed? And who was the woman who saw the murder and kept silent?

This first story of Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte, the half-aborigine detective, takes him to a sheep station in the Darling River bush country where he encounters those problems he understands so well... mixed blood and divided loyalties.

PLEASE NOTE: Part of the appeal of Arthur Upfield's stories lies in their authentic portrayal of many aspects of outback Australian life in the 1930s and through into the 1950s. These books reflect and depict the attitudes and ways of speech of that era particularly with regard to Aborigines and to women. In reproducing this book the publisher does not endorse the attitudes or opinions they express.

©1965 First published 1929 by Hutchinson and Company Ltd. © Bonaparte Holdings Pty Ltd, 1965. (P)2015 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd

My Take

It would be easy to focus in a review of  THE BARRAKEE MYSTERY on the politically incorrect (by today's standards anyway) attitudes and terminology. But as the publisher says, they reflected the attitudes of the times.

Peter Hosking does a wonderful job of the narration and that allowed me to reflect on other things: the descriptions of the outback and the toughness required of those who chose to live there. I was struck also by how the novel reflected Australia's bush heritage.

Born in England in 1890, Upfield moved to Australia in 1911 and fought with the Australian military during the First World War. Following his war service, he travelled extensively throughout Australia, obtaining a knowledge of Australian Aboriginal culture that he would later use in his written works. In addition to writing detective fiction, Upfield was a member of the Australian Geological Society and was involved in numerous scientific expeditions. (Wikipedia)

The bush heritage that I am reminded of were the works of Banjo Paterson and particularly the stories of Henry Lawson, even SUCH IS LIFE by Joseph Furphy.  In later novels Upfield wasn't as expansive in his descriptions of the country, and focussed more on detective/crime elements, but there are a lot of mini-stories in THE BARRAKEE MYSTERY. There is a mystery element in the novel too, well structured, but not really all that difficult to solve.

Bony reminds me a little of Hercules Poirot: not only does he believe in his own superior detection skills, but he also dispenses his own form of justice.

My rating: 4.4

I've also reviewed DEATH OF A SWAGMAN 

20 April 2016

Review: PROHIBITED ZONE, Alastair Sarre

  • first published Wakefield Press 2011
  • ISBN 978-1-86254-943-2
  • 363 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Wakefield Press)

Steve West, mining engineer and ex-footy star, just wants a dirty weekend in town, but he can't stop people telling him their secrets. When crusading Kara incites a breakout in the desert, Westie finds himself her reluctant accomplice. Soon he's got a runaway asylum seeker in tow, and all the world, it seems, on his tail.

There is a way out - but it's in the prohibited zone.

My take

The Woomera Immigration Reception and Processing Centre (IRPC) was an Australian immigration detention facility near the village of Woomera in South Australia. Unauthorised arrivals, which had exceeded the capacity of other detention facilities. It was originally intended to hold 400 people, however at its peak in April 2000 it had nearly 1,500 detainees. After ongoing public pressure in response to several well publicised riots from 2000, accusations of human rights abuses, and capacity issues, the centre closed in April 2003. (Wikipedia)

Thirteen years on the issue of how to handle illegal immigrants still plagues Australia's political parties and so the issues behind this novel are still familiar to Australia readers. It wasn't really until after the closure of Woomera that Australians became aware of how inhumanely its residents had been treated. (See Four Corners programme)

Set very squarely in the South Australian landscape with lots of landmarks that local readers will be familiar with, PROHIBITED ZONE is very readable, the characters colourful, and the scenarios quite credible.

My rating: 4.5

About the author
Alastair Sarre was born in Leigh Creek, a coal-mining town in the outback of South Australia. He studied forestry at Australian National University and worked for a mining company for a couple of years before returning to Canberra to complete a writing diploma. He has worked as a science editor and freelance writer specialising in forestry and spent time in Japan before moving with his family to the Adelaide Hills. Prohibited Zone, his first novel, was shortlisted for the Adelaide Festival Award for Best Unpublished Manuscript.

18 April 2016

Review: A FEW OF THE GIRLS, Maeve Binchy

  • this edition published by Orion Publishing in 2015
  • ISBN 978-1-4091-6142-4
  • 404 pages, 
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

'The Irish do love telling stories, and we are suspicious of people who don't have long, complicated conversations. There used to be a rule in etiquette books that you should invite four talkers and four listeners to a dinner party. That doesn't work in Ireland, because nobody knows four listeners' Maeve Binchy

Maeve Binchy's multi-million-copy-selling novels not only tell wonderful stories, they also give an insight in to how Ireland has changed over the decades, but how people remain the same: they still fall in love, sometimes unsuitably; they still have hopes and dreams; they have deep, long-standing friendships, and some that fall apart. From her earliest writing to her most recent, Maeve's work has included wonderfully nostalgic pieces and also sharp, often witty writing which is insightful and topical.

But at the heart of all Maeve's fiction are the people and their relationships with each other. A FEW OF THE GIRLS is a glorious collection of the very best of her stories, full of the warmth, charm and humour that has always been an essential part of all of Maeve's writing.

My Take

There are 41 short stories in this collection, mainly focussing on women and relationships. Some are set in Ireland, some in London, but in most of them the central figure finds out something new about herself or a friend.  Each of the stories is very different and individual, and I can honestly say I enjoyed them all. I was sorry as the end of the collection approached.

I read this book simply because a friend recommended it, and I wanted to read something outside the crime fiction genre.

You'll notice that I have used the label "new to me". I am sure I read some Maeve Binchy somewhere in the past, but certainly not in the history of this blog.

If you are a dabbler in your reading, then this book would work very well at the rate of a story or two a day.

My rating: 4.6

14 April 2016

Review: THE TRAVELLER RETURNS, Patricia Wentworth

  • alternative title: SHE CAME BACK
  • first published 1945 (US publication)
  • #9 in the Miss Silver series
  • this edition from Amazon (Kindle)
  • File Size: 655 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton; New Ed edition (December 13, 2007)
  • Publication Date: December 13, 2007
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0043VDC8E
Synopsis (Amazon)

Anne Jocelyn had been a beautiful, wealthy young woman. She had died three years ago. At least, that was what her husband Philip and the rest of the family had always thought. But then a woman calling herself Anne Jocelyn appeared and managed to convince everyone that she was the real Anne. Everyone, that is, except Miss Silver, whose suspicions are aroused by an apparently senseless murder.

My Take

I chose this for my participation in the Crime Fiction of the Year challenge for 1945 found over at Past Offences.  There is a little conflicting evidence about the date of publication so I have gone with the date on Fantastic Fiction. It seems that it was published in 1945 in USA, but not till 1948 in UK

The setting is England 1943. As far as Philip Jocelyn was concerned his wife Anne had been killed in France by a German bullet in 1940 and her body was buried in the local churchyard at Jocelyn's Holt. So when a woman claiming to be Anne turns up at the house at Jocelyn's Holt he can't believe it is her. The rest of the family are taken in by her stunning resemblance to Anne and to her detailed knowledge of the family. But if this woman is impersonating his wife, why is she doing it?

Miss Silver meets a woman on a train who is travelling to London to meet Lady Jocelyn.  She says she will know whether this is truly Anne Jocelyn or not. And then she is found dead.

While the police sergeant is a fan of Maudie Silver's, his boss doesn't come out of it too well as he is always ready to accept the easy solution to a problem. He sees Miss Silver as an interefering old biddy, always turning up where she is not really needed. Of course it is Miss Silver who eventually solves the case. 

 A nice cosy read.

My Rating: 4.3

I've also read

12 April 2016

Review: OUT OF THE ICE, Ann Turner

  • source: e-ARC from publisher through NetGalley
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Australia (June 1, 2016)
  • Publication Date: June 1, 2016
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01C36E2XO
Synopsis (NetGalley)

By the bestselling author of The Lost Swimmer, a tense, eerie thriller set in the icy reaches of Antarctica

When environmental scientist Laura Alvarado is sent to a remote Antarctic island to report on an abandoned whaling station, she begins to uncover more than she could ever imagine.

Despite new life thriving in the icy wilderness, the whaling station is brimming with awful reminders of its bloody, violent past, and Laura is disturbed by evidence of recent human interference. Rules have been broken, and the protected wildlife is behaving strangely.

On a diving expedition, Laura is separated from her colleague. She emerges into an ice cave where, through the blue shadows, she is shocked to see an anguished figure, crying for help.

But in this freezing, lonely landscape there are ghosts everywhere, and Laura begins to sense that her own eyes cannot be trusted. Is her mind playing tricks? Has she been in the ice too long?

Back at base, Laura’s questions about the whaling station go unanswered, blocked by unhelpful scientists, unused to questions from an outsider. And Laura just can’t shake what happened in the ice cave.

Piecing together a past and present of cruelty and vulnerability that can be traced all around the globe, from Norway, to Nantucket, Europe and Antarctica, Laura will stop at nothing to unearth the truth. As she sees the dark side of endeavour and human nature, she also discovers a legacy of love, hope and the meaning of family. If only Laura can find her way...

My Take

Australians have a long connection with Antarctica and a mystery novel set there is very attractive.

Highly reputed marine biologist Laura Alvarado is an expert on the Environmental Impact of humans on Antarctic wildlife particularly on penguins, whales and dolphins.  She is in Antarctica currently on an unusually long 18 month contract.

She is requested is to go to the old Norwegian whaling station at Fredelighavn, currently the subject of an Exclusion Order, to assess whether it should be opened for tourism. The station has been closed since 1957 and reports are that many of the formerly endangered species, whales and penguins etc., are flourishing. Laura is to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment. There is a British base nearby called Alliance on South Georgia Island. She will be given assistance at Alliance and will travel to Fredelighavn on a daily basis.

Laura is surprised at the level of non-cooperation she meets among the scientists at Alliance but puts it down to the top secret nature of their research.

I thought the parts of the plot set at Alliance and Fredlighavn were very well done with good character development and a rising level of suspense. The story of the Norwegian whalers who set up the village at Fredelighavn was interesting. I was less than comfortable when the plot took an extravagant direction and tracked paedophilia across the globe.

Having said that, I think the plot would make a stunning film, thought-provoking on many levels.

My Rating: 3.8

I've also read  4.4, THE LOST SWIMMER

About the author (publisher)

Ann Turner is an award-winning screenwriter and director, avid reader, and history lover. She is drawn to salt-sprayed coasts, luminous landscapes, and the people who inhabit them all over the world. She is a passionate gardener. Her films include the historical feature Celia starring Rebecca Smart—which Time Out listed as one of the fifty greatest directorial debuts of all time, Hammers Over The Anvil starring Russell Crowe and Charlotte Rampling, and the psychological thriller Irresistible starring Susan Sarandon, Sam Neill, and Emily Blunt. Ann has lectured in film at the Victorian College of the Arts. Returning to her first love, the written word, in her debut novel The Lost Swimmer Ann explores themes of love, trust and the dark side of relationships.

9 April 2016

Review: MYSTERY IN WHITE, J. Jefferson Farjeon - audio book

 Synopsis (Audible)

"The horror on the train, great though it may turn out to be, will not compare with the horror that exists here, in this house." 

On Christmas Eve, heavy snowfall brings a train to a halt near the village of Hemmersby. Several passengers take shelter in a deserted country house, where the fire has been lit and the table laid for tea - but no one is at home. Trapped together for Christmas, the passengers are seeking to unravel the secrets of the empty house when a murderer strikes in their midst.  

My Take:

Subtitled A Christmas Crime Story, this novel is a variant on a classic mystery plot. Passengers on a train held up by snow drifts on an English countryside railway struggle through the the snow storm to a large  country house which they find deserted yet visitors are obviously expected: the table is laid for tea and fires are burning. The group of seven or eight people are unknown to each other and at least one of them is an unsavoury character.

The plot was fairly tangled and seemed to have the occasional change of direction. The narrator tried, reasonably successfully, to audibly differentiate between each of the characters. One of the older members of the party from the train, Mr Maltby, takes charge and searches for clues about the house owners. He is rather quirky himself, claiming that he is able to commune with the ghost of Charles I, and he makes use of the paranormal in the final denouement of what turns out to be a murder mystery. The owners of the house are discovered stranded in a car in a nearby ditch and are brought back to the house, and a story of what happened in the house twenty years before is revealed.

My rating: 3.7

About the author
Joseph Jefferson Farjeon 1883-1955 was an English crime and mystery novelist, playwright and screenwriter. 
At least two of his novels have only been recently published. He was a prolific writer with about 70 novels written from 1920 onwards. His novels were greatly admired by Dorothy L. Sayers, and The British Library reissued Mystery in White: A Christmas Crime Story in 2014, and two further novels in 2015: Thirteen Guests and The Z Murders. Mystery in White is also one of at least three of his novels to have appeared in Italian translations. Others appeared in German, French, and other languages.
He also wrote under the pseudonym of Anthony Smith. 

Review: SIX FOUR, Hideo Yokoyama

  • translator: Jonathan Lloyd-Davies
  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 2282 KB
  • Print Length: 599 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus (March 3, 2016)
  • Publication Date: March 3, 2016
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B011A0LSKE
 Synopsis (Amazon)

For five days in January 1989, the parents of a seven-year-old Tokyo schoolgirl sat and listened to the demands of their daughter's kidnapper. They would never learn his identity. They would never see their daughter again.

For the fourteen years that followed, the Japanese public listened to the police's apologies. They would never forget the botched investigation that became known as 'Six Four'. They would never forgive the authorities their failure.

For one week in late 2002, the press officer attached to the police department in question confronted an anomaly in the case. He could never imagine what he would uncover. He would never have looked if he'd known what he would find.

My Take

The novel opens conventionally enough with police press director Yoshinobu Mikami identifying the corpse of a teenage girl, or rather, noting that the corpse is not that of his own missing daughter. From there the novel takes us back to a cold case - that of an 8 year old girl who went missing 14 years before and was found dead after a large ransom was paid. The Commissioner General from Tokyo is about to visit the family to pay his respects at the family shrine and Mikami is meant to be preparing the press for the visit.

In reality much of the novel is taken up with an internal power struggle in Prefecture D between rival sections of the police force, Criminal Investigations and Administrative Affairs. As the head of Media Relations Mikami is part of Administrative Affairs although he was formerly a top detective in Criminal Investigations.

The directors of these sectors are trying to undermine each other's reputations, each vying for promotion to the central police bureau in Tokyo, each regarding their current position as a demotion to a backwater. Mikami is the meat in the sandwich, constantly being threatened by one side or the other with being sent to an even more remote rural location, and never being a detective ever again. To make matters worse the Press Room has decided to put pressure on both sectors over the question of the use of anonymity in press releases and is demanding that the directors be more open in their disclosures. The police want the right not to disclose the identity of either a victim or a perpetrator. The press want the right to decide on the disclosure at the point of publication.

There are several examples of police coverup of information that would either be damaging to police officials or to political figures. When the Chief Commissioner from Tokyo decides to make local PR visit, Mikami unearths one such damaging coverup when he is trying to set up a visit to the family shrine of a murder victim whose case is still unsolved after 14 years. 

For me the novel emphasised how very different the expectations of Japanese crime fiction readers must be. SIX FOUR is apparently a best selling novel in Japan (it sold a million copies in six days in Japan, according to its publisher) and I suspect many of the issues in the novel have their origins in contemporary Japanese social and political issues. However the result is heavy reading because there is at times detailed discussion and lengthy narration.

Investigations into crimes seem to take a back seat, along with progress into understanding what has happened to Ayumi, Mikami's daughter who has been missing for three months. But then, just when you think the story must be wrapping up, the plot makes a twist, and it is this late plot development that makes all the persistence worth while. This twist cleverly draws all the previous plot lines together. The nature of of the story dramatically changes. And this is what other reviews have given the author accolades for.

This is a novel that demands a lot of the reader, even more I suspect from the Western reader who does not have the same cultural understanding as a Japanese reader. I can't pretend that I understood everything but it certainly qualifies well as an entrant in the Global Reading Challenge.

My rating: 4.5

About the author:

Born in 1957, Hideo Yokoyama worked for twelve years as an investigative reporter with a regional newspaper north of Tokyo, before becoming one of Japan's most acclaimed fiction writers. His exhaustive and relentless work ethic is known to mirror the intense and obsessive behaviour of his characters; and in January 2003 he was hospitalized following a heart attack brought about by working constantly for seventy-two hours. Six Four is his sixth novel, and his first to be published in the English language.

Jonathan Lloyd-Davies studied Japanese at Durham and Chinese at Oxford; he currently works as a translator of Japanese fiction. His translations include Edge by Koji Suzuki, with co-translator Camellia Nieh, the Demon Hunters trilogy by Baku Yumemakura, Gray Men by Tomotake Ishikawa, and Nan-Core by Mahokaru Numata. His translation of Edge received the Shirley Jackson award for best novel. Originally from Wales, he now resides in Tokyo.

3 April 2016

Review: HINDSIGHT, Melanie Casey

  • first published 2013, Pantera Press
  • ISBN 978-1-921997-34-1
  • 356 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Publisher)

Cass Lehman has a terrifying ‘gift’... She sees what others can’t...

The youngest in a family of extraordinary women with supernatural talents, Cass is cursed with the not-so-sexy gift of seeing the past... but not just any past; she sees death.
For years she's hidden herself away in her family home. Now desperate for a better life, she ventures into sleepy Jewel Bay, only to stumble upon murder and mayhem and a killer at large who's been lurking in their midst...

Taking a chance, Cass volunteers to assist Detective Ed Dyson with the investigation. Will Cass be able to save the latest victim... and herself?

My take

This is the first novel in Casey's Cass Lehman series set in Adelaide's Fleurieu Pensinsula and Adelaide.

Cass Lehman is psychic, more precisely she has the ‘gift’ of retrocognition … the ability to spontaneously re-live the last minutes of a person’s life. She has spent nearly a decade as a recluse, living quietly with her mother and grandmother, both of whom have similar gifts. Now she has decided that she should be using her gift more productively: perhaps she can be of assistance to the police in homicide cases.

Ed Dyson's pregnant wife Susan disappeared without trace two years ago and since then Ed has been keeping his own case files on missing women. But it takes Cass to see a pattern that he has missed.

This novel does a good job of introducing the people who will be the main characters of this series, and, while not everything is entirely plausible to me, the story is interesting.

My rating: 4.4

I've also read

1 April 2016

Review: CHANCE DEVELOPMENTS, Alexander McCall Smith

  • subtitle: Unexpected Love Stories
  • first published in Great Britain 2015
  • ISBN 978-1-84697-329-1
  • 236 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (back cover of book)

It is said that a picture may be worth a thousand words but an old photograph can inspire many more. In this beguiling book, Alexander McCall Smith casts his eye over five chanced-upon photographs from the era of black-and-white photography and imagines the stories behind them. Who were those people, what were their stories, why are they smiling, what made them sad?

What emerges are surprising and poignant tales of love and friendship in a variety of settings - an estate in the Highlands of Scotland, a travelling circus in Canada, an Australian gold-mining town, a village in Ireland, and the Scottish capital, Edinburgh. Some will find joy and fulfilment - others would prefer happier endings. Each of them, though, will find love, and that is ultimately what matters.

My Take

First of all, I need to point out this book is NOT crime fiction. It is part of ploy to widen my reading horizons although of course McCall Smith, the creator of Precious Ramotswe, is already an author that I enjoy.

What the author has done is to take five black and white or sepia photographs and imagine the stories that might be behind the photos. His stories make you look more closely at the photos, perhaps even to curse their fuzziness and the fact that you can't enlarge them. And yet each story seems very appropriate to the particular photo.

Just five short stories. So it is a pretty quick read, and an interesting one at that.

My rating: 4.5

I've also read



What I read in March 2016

March 2016
I've done some lovely reading this month - a lot of British authors.

Crimes are committed but my pick of the month ALL THE BIRDS, SINGING by Evie Wyld is not strictly crime fiction.
It is set in the UK and Australia and won Australia's Miles Franklin award for literature in 2014.

THE PRICE OF LOVE by Peter Robinson is a collection of short stories, while  A RISING MAN by Abir Mukherjee introduces an interesting sleuth in Calcutta in 1919.

Looking for an Australian author? - try DARKEST PLACE by Jaye Ford and if you've never read any Peter Lovesey why not give THE STONE WIFE a go?
See what others have picked this month.

Crime Fiction Pick of the Month March 2016

Crime Fiction Pick of the Month 2016
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 March 2016, 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 -
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.


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